The father of a teenager who killed himself after being forced out of the exclusive Groton School claims the prep school overreacted to accusations that his son may have bullied another student.
Hunter Perkins, 16, was clearly upset about being forced out of Groton, a private boarding school in Massachusetts. On Oct. 5, Perkins went on Facebook and posted a message to his friends: "I'm leaving. Don't know when, or how, but I know why, and that doesn't make it any better," Perkins wrote. "Good bye."
The next day, Perkins' father Walter came to pick his son and take him home to Chantilly, Va. Five days later, Hunter Perkins took his own life, shooting himself with a gun that had belonged to his deceased mother.
Walter Perkins suggested to ABC News that Groton overreacted after a homophobic cartoon ridiculing a fellow student was emailed to others.
"I do believe that if Groton or any of these other schools checked what the kids do on the Web, it wouldn't be that far afield for what my son ended up paying dearly for doing," he said in a voice mail.
The father also said, "I think there might be some relation to the tragedy at Rutgers," he said referring to Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi who committed suicide after his roommate caught him on a Webcam and streamed his tryst with another man.
Walter Perkins implied that other news outlets had distorted his comments about the school's role in his son's death.
"I must say that it wasn't a simple cause and effect that I believe that PC [political correctness] led the headmaster of Groton to murder my son," he said.
In interviews with other news outlets, Walter Perkins said that he was told to pick up his son from Groton after an incident in which Hunter and two other boys drew sexual, homophobic cartoons making fun of another student.
"He either doctored a photograph or put a cartoon bubble on it," Perkins told WCVB, ABC's Boston affiliate. "He said his roommate e-mailed them out. He had no idea the kid was going to do that."
After that, Walter Perkins says, officials at Groton repeatedly encouraged him to withdraw Hunter from school rather than go through a disciplinary process and face expulsion. A few days before Hunter's suicide, Walter Perkins and Groton headmaster Richard Commons reportedly reached an agreement to have Hunter leave Groton.
Teen Killed Self After Being Forced Out of Groton Following Bully Accusation
Groton headmaster Commons released a statement saying the students were informed of Perkins' death in chapel. "Through prayers, hymns, tears, and grieving, those present expressed what this boy meant to us. We mourn his loss as we continue to ensure the health and well being of all those in our care," Commons said.
Local law enforcement reportedly conducted an investigation into the incident at the school, and looked into whether bullying had been involved, but officials have declined to discuss the results of that investigation. Groton Police Chief Donald Palma has not responded to ABC News' request for comment.
Walter Perkins has said his son was already taking anti-depressants, and he'd seen a psychiatrist only hours before he shot himself. On Facebook and another social media Website, Formspring, Hunter indicated that he'd just broken up with his girlfriend.
A few days before his suicide, Hunter gave some indication of his mental state on Formspring. In response to one user's question, "what's something that makes you really happy?" he responded, "at the moment? nothing." Then, when asked, "why nothing at the moment?" Hunter replied, "because, quite frankly, life sucks."
In the suicide of the Rutgers University freshman, two students, including Clementi's roommate were charged with invasion of privacy, and the prosecutor is considering the possibility of upgrading the charges to include hate crime.
Reports today said that both students had withdrawn from Rutgers. Dharun Ravi has transferred to another school and Molly Wei quit out of fear for her life, their lawyers said.