Brutally beaten at Highland Spring High School


Petition by Lindsay Ryan,
Kingston, United States

When 14 year-old Eric Martin started high school this fall, his parents were assured that the zero-tolerance anti-bullying policy in place at Highland Spring High School would spare Eric from the relentless bullying he had faced since first grade. Instead, Eric was not just bullied but brutally beaten by a group of students at school while other classmates watched, leaving him with a broken wrist, a 9-day hospital stay, and a traumatic brain injury which will affect him for the rest of his life.

What happened next was shocking: while still recovering from his injuries, Highland Spring brought charges against Eric for the assault. 

Eric admits to lunging at the bullies as they threatened and yelled anti-gay slurs at him, but even though the other boys did not suffer any major injuries and Eric was viciously beaten into unconsciousness, he is the one being punished.

I reached out to Eric’s family after hearing his story, and started a petition asking Highland Spring High School and Henrico County to drop the charges against Eric. Will you join me by signing my petition?

As a person who endured a lifetime of bullying by a family member myself, I knew that I had to take a stand. What happened to Eric is horrible, and he deserves justice. 

Eric is a kind, soft-spoken boy who has endured more than any 14 year old should, and now his life is on hold because of bad decisions made not just by school bullies, but by the administration of Highland Spring High School as well. By signing my petition, you’ll help send a clear message to the administration that punishing Eric for standing up for himself isn’t right.

Please join me in taking a stand against bullying everywhere, and call for the assault charges against Eric to be dropped.

Lindsay Ryan
Kingston, NY


Early this fall, Eric Martin was a ninth grader about to begin the next chapter in his life, high school.  Before the school year had begun, Eric’s parents visited with school staff to discuss concerns over years of documented bullying Eric had endured since first grade.  Highland Spring High school administration assured the Martins the school had active and effective zero tolerance bullying prevention policies, and not to worry about their son’s safety.

Described by his family as a “soft-spoken, creative ‘still waters run deep’ personality,” his transition into high school was not safe and made difficult when he became a target for bullying and harassment from fellow students.  On September 4th, after repeated bullying, including gay slurs and inaction from school staff, a fellow student called Eric an abusive word, then moved closer to him to continue to harass him.  Eric asked him to leave him alone, but the bully continued to verbally harass him and then threateningly postured near him.  Eric felt intimated and that he needed to protect himself.  Eric admitted to lunging first, but only because he could sense that the bully and his friends were going to physically attack him.

What followed was not a fight, but a horrible beating that left Eric in the hospital for nine days and his assailants with little injury. Eric’s attackers viciously beat him, causing him to have a broken hand and a traumatic brain injury (TBI), leaving him unconscious by the end. This brain injury will permanently impact Eric’s life. He continues to receive medical treatment for his injuries seven weeks later.

Most surprising is Highland Springs High School, because of their Zero-Tolerance Bullying Policy, has decided to file assault charges against Eric for his behavior, twelve days after the incident occurred. Also, they allege that he has made threats against the school and will not permit him back on school grounds without him signing a student threat document. His mom, Mary Martin refused to allow Eric to sign the document. Recently, Eric has been allowed to attend another high school in the district. The Martin family has hired a lawyer to fight against the charges brought against Eric. His first court appearance was earlier this month with his trial date set for November 21st. They have also started a GoFundMe campaign account to help pay for the medical, legal, and education fees. 

The Martin family, Tammy Motola, their family advocate, myself and many others do not think the school has chosen the right path. We demand justice for Eric Martin!  We are asking the school to drop the charges against Eric and discuss another course of action for addressing the situation.


You can make a difference in Eric’s life three ways:

1.) Sign this petition and Share it with your friends, family, co-workers!

2.) Consider giving to Eric’s GoFundMe campaign!

3.) Write letters of encouragement to Eric at, Letter for Eric, P.O. Box 993, Sandston, VA 23150.

Highland Springs High School phone number is: (804) 328-4000

Here are news articles which chronicle Eric’s story:

NBC12 Article – Eric Martin

Alter Net – Eric Martin story

Gay Star News – Eric Martin Story


Bullied Highland Springs student assigned to anger management

A freshman at Highland Springs High School, who suffered head trauma during a classroom altercation in September, was asked by a Henrico County judge Friday to participate in an anger-management program, according to the boy’s attorney. Eric Martin, 15, had been charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault after he fought back when he was called homosexual slurs Sept.

More evidence of how screwed-up our justices system is… the person who was bullied is forced to participate in an anger-management program