Hope Holcomb, 10, has cerebral palsy, but she loves playing outdoors. However, her parents claim she is afraid to go out of her home in Canton, Stark County, because a man and his 9-yr-old son next door bully and mock her due to her condition.
Last week, Hope's grandmother shot a video at the bus stop that shows 9-year-old Joseph and his father William Bailey, mocking Hope by walking slowly with an exaggerated limp that mimics Hope's gait. Hope's parents decided to shame the father and son by showing the video to the public.
The Daily Mail reports Hope's parents allege that everyday after school at the bus stop, William Bailey and his 9-year-old son Joseph, mock Hope by walking in Hope's presence in a manner that mocks her.
MyFox8 reports that Tricia Knight, Hope's mother, said: “It started last year we had trouble on the bus, she was miserable she didn’t want to ride the bus, cried every morning. He treats her like crap, and most recently the dad got involved.”
According to the Daily Mail, the Knights claim that the bullying intensified recently. Mike Knight, Hope's father, said: "It makes me sick too, to think that a grown man would tease a 10-year-old disabled girl that has never done a thing to any of them for no reason, and now she doesn’t want to get on the bus to go to school."
NY Daily News, however, reports that Bailey claims he suffered injuries on the day the video was shot. Bailey said: “I would never do that. I wasn’t out to make this kid look bad.”
The Daily Mail also reports Bailey denied the allegation that he mocked Hope. Bailey claims that the Knights have also repeatedly mocked his son who suffers from seizures and ADHD. According to Bailey, he was only retaliating after the Knights called his son a "retard." He claimed that while Hope's grandmother filmed him walking with his son, the Knights were present and they also were mocking his son Joseph.
Canton Rep reports Baily said: “I told me son, ‘If they want to call us retard, we’ll show them a retard.’ And we walked to the car from the bus like that. I did that with my son. I never meant that or anything at all toward little Hope. I don’t make fun of anybody with a disability. I wasn’t making fun of anyone. They kept calling my little boy names and I reacted badly. You have to defend your son, your children.”
William Bailey's wife, Vickie, claimed the incident was related to a longstanding feud between both families which has involved mutual name-calling and mocking. She said: “He (William Bailey) did get out of the car, you’ve seen the video I am sure, my kid was walking like, but no offense to Hope so why they are taking it that way, I have no idea."
MyFox8 reports both families have filed complains at the prosecutor's office but no criminal charges have filed. According to NY Daily News, the Knights say they are pursuing charges of "aggravated menacing."
The Knights claim the incident was part of repeated mocking and bullying of their daughter Hope, by Bailey and his son. Mr. Knight said: “I don’t want my daughter to live in fear. She doesn’t want her blinds open, doesn’t want to go outside.”
According to the Daily Mail, a local police officer said: "We are aware that there are neighbor problems between the families... name-calling, loud music and other violations. We will address any violation of the Ohio law, any incident that may occur."
Neighbors who have watched the clan feud say they are fed-up with the behavior of both families. Ray Burdette, who lives in the neighborhood, said: "Their daughters play together and ride bikes together, their sons ride bikes together, the (Knight) kids swim in the (Bailey) kids’ pool with them." She added: "Two weeks ago, they were down playing basketball and riding bikes together and now this."
Canton Rep reports the Knights appeared on Cleveland TV station and Fox 8. The family, dressed in red shirts emblazoned with the words: “Stop the Bullying,” said they want the world to know about Hope's plight. They urged members of the Canton South School District to show their support for Hope by wearing the red shirt when the families meet at the Canton City Prosecutor’s Office where prosecutors will decide if charges will be filed.
But, the Daily Mail reports that both families admit they had been close but quarreled. Mrs Knight said: "Kids don’t always get along. I would be a liar if I told you my kids weren’t brats, too." Mrs Bailey also admitted that she was "heart-broken" over the fighting. She said "I love those guys. I still do. But this needs to stop."