After Phillip Maxwell, Romney's former school mate, told the story that Romney bullied a gay student at his elite prep school more than four decades ago, Peter Maxwell, his brother, has come forward with a different picture of Romney than his brother's.
Peter, criticized his brother Phillip, saying that he "loves to expound on things." He said it came to him as a "shock" to hear the story that Romney bullied a gay student at their elite Cranbrook School. He said it wasn't the Romney he knew. The Romney he knew at Cranbrook was more of a prankster than a bully. He told ABC News: "I would say the pranking would ring true, but the bullying was just a shock to me."
Peter's brother Phillip, was one of Romney's former high school mates who gave The Washington Post detailed account of the incident in which Romney, objecting to the "nonconformist" comportment of a junior John Lauber, presumed homosexual, led other boys in an attack in which they pinned their victim down while Romney clipped the boy's offending dyed blond locks with a pair of scissors.
According to ABC News, Phillip, describing the incident, said it was a "hack job" with clumps of the boy's hair "taken off." Phillip, who was involved in the incident, said the attackers were a "pack of dogs." Digital Journal reports he described the attack as "assault and battery." Phillip said: "When I saw the look on his face, it was a look I'll never forget. This was bullying supreme."
Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor, who also helped restrain Lauber while Romney went to work with a pair of scissors, recalled that "it happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me."
Phillip's brother, Peter, in his own account of "the Romney he knew" at Cranbrook School, said: “For Mitt to be a bully just shocks me. We grew up with him. He was the kind of a guy who would bend over backwards to do something for you and would go out of his way to help people and for him to be characterized as a bully would be the farthest thing from the truth."
Peter, who admits that he is a Romney supporter, said Phillip revealed the incident to him only a month ago. He argued that it was something to be "taken in the context of the time," and explained that Cranbrook was a "mix bag" accepting students of all religions and cultures.
But Phillip, who told ABC News that he votes for Republicans as well as Democrats, held a different view. He said: “When you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye you never forget it. And that was what we all walked away with."
Peter, joining issues with Phillip, said that his brother “kind of gets into the emotions of a situation or a moment in time and loves to expound on things. I’m not necessarily saying exaggerate, but wants to take things to a higher level and he made a comment the other day, ‘Oh God, today they would consider that almost assault and battery,’ and I said, ‘You sound like a prosecutor in Northern Michigan.’... I said, ‘Come on, What really was it?’ And he said, ‘The kid had long hair and it wasn’t really what people were into at the time.’ And I said, ‘Let’s kind of look at it that way. Let’s not make it a national media event for an incident that happened in 1965.’”
ABC News reports that when Peter was asked about the fact that four other witnesses described the incident in much the same way as his brother Phillip, he admitted that he had already graduated when it happened but yet insisted it was a prank and not bullying. Peter, according to ABC News, explained that Romney was a prankster, but that his pranks were never "mean spirited." According to Peter, pranking was part of the culture and included "drag racing and underage drinking," but gay bullying was not part of it. He said: “He (Romney) always had a little bit of twinkle in his eye and always, ‘OK, maybe we can make a joke out of this. I just don’t think it was a gay bashing moment. I think it was more like, ‘Let’s cut this kid’s hair. He doesn’t fit the Cranbrook profile.'"
When Peter was asked whether he believed it was possible that Romney did not remember an incident that others remembered in detail, he admitted that Romney's forgetfulness was a "lapse of convenience," but added that Romney has been "busy" over the last years.