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In Wellesley, an attack spurs outrage, protest over school bullying

15-year-old Sean Ade (center) with his parents Dylan and Allyson outside of their Wellesley home on Tuesday evening.
15-year-old Sean Ade (center) with his parents Dylan and Allyson outside of their Wellesley home on Tuesday evening.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

It started with taunts and a threatening chase around town. Then in July, a group of six Wellesley High classmates lured 15-year-old Sean Ade into the woods near his former elementary school and pounced.

Four of the boys punched, kicked, and elbowed Sean. One peed on him, while another filmed it on a cellphone, police records show.

Sean escaped with bruises and scrapes but the attack, his parents said, continues to haunt him — in part because several of the boys involved have returned to school. One even sits in his class, his mother said.

“Sean has a tortured existence there because of what they’ve done,” said mother Allyson Ade. “It just feels wrong.”

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The handling of the incident has spurred an outcry in the small Massachusetts town of 30,000, where Ade and other parents say school administrators have brushed off queries and concern about the July attack and bullying in the school system.

After Sean’s father spoke out at a school committee meeting earlier this month, parents began discussing a show of support, and have planned a Wednesday protest outside the high school to “create awareness around recent incidents of violence, bullying and injustice.”

School administrators maintain they have done everything they can.

Wellesley High School.
Wellesley High School.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

“Student safety is always our top priority,” said a statement released Tuesday by Wellesley Public Schools Superintendent David Lussier’s office. “When we were informed of this situation, we promptly investigated and disciplined the students involved according to state regulations, and safety planning was immediately enacted and remains in place to help ensure that all students feel secure and supported.”

Wellesley police chief Jack Pilecki declined to comment on the specifics of the incident, which was detailed in police records and first reported by WCVB-TV.

The attack on Sean, which prompted his parents to take him to the emergency room for cuts and bruises, came after months of bullying behavior from other students, the Ades said. The now-sophomore had even grown up with some of them as friends in the Wellesley public school system as early as kindergarten.

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On the afternoon of July 19, according to a Wellesley Police report, Sean followed a friend into the woods near Bates Elementary School. Unknown to him, the friend then texted some of the other students with a signal — that Sean was in place, the police report said.

Sean later recounted the attack to his parents in spurts — being knocked to the ground, hammered with a flurry of fists and feet, strikes to his ribs and his head. When one of the six boys pulled down his pants and urinated on him, he took the chance to grab his skateboard, he said, and flee for home.

In the moment, everything blurred together, Sean Ade said an in interview with the Globe. “All I remember was staring into one of the other boys’ eyes while it was happening.

“I didn’t really think these people I thought were my closest friends could do something like this to me,” he added.

The Ades rushed him to the hospital, where a Wellesley police patrolman interviewed him and observed several cuts and bruises. Over the next few days, the patrolman interviewed the six boys who were at the scene of the attack, according to police records. Four were subsequently charged in juvenile court for charges relating to assault, battery and conspiracy, according to the police report.

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Sean’s parents, mindful of their son’s fear he would be ostracized if he spoke up, said they agreed to have the police department pursue the case.

A month after the attack, they said they learned the boys had a juvenile court hearing before a Dedham town clerk magistrate. There, the four attackers signed agreements that mandate community service and a behavior modification course, as well as a ban from contacting Sean for a year, according to the documents, which the Ade family shared with the Globe.

When the parents approached school administrators asking about academic suspensions or discipline, they said the high school principal, Jamie Chisum, told them the school started bullying investigations into the four students, according to e-mails the Ades shared with the Globe.

Two of the students left the Wellesley Public Schools system, Chisum told the Ades in one of the e-mails. The Ades eventually learned — after asking for updates — that the other two would receive brief suspensions.

In another statement addressed to the school community late Tuesday night, Chisum and Lussier said officials had sought to balance both “appropriate consequences and a path forward to recover.”

“Young people make mistakes; they should be allowed to learn from those mistakes,” the statement said.

After Dylan Ade spoke up at a school committee meeting in October, other Wellesley parents were outraged and reached out to the Ades, they said. After meeting in one parent’s house, they decided to protest.

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“People were really angry there was no communication,” said Dalia Nuwayhid, a Wellesley parent who helped organize the rally.

Nuwayhid, who has had multiple children go through Wellesley Public Schools, said she’s been especially sensitive to bullying concerns having been a parent of a special-needs student.

Allyson Ade said she wants what happened to her son to shine a light on how students need more support when they are bullied by their peers.

“We need to make sure our kids are safe,” she said.

Sean Ade said he received dozens of text messages of solidarity ahead of Wednesday’s protest. “I know there’s going to be so many people there to support this whole thing and make this whole situation better.”


Elizabeth Koh can be reached at elizabeth.koh@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @elizabethrkoh.