Given Mitt Romney’s self-contradicting jumble of responses to today’s Washington Post report on his history of tormenting closeted gay high school classmates, you wouldn’t think the fallout from the revelation of his days as a high school bully could get any worse. But maybe it can:
Phillip Maxwell, an attorney in Michigan, confirmed to CBS News that the incident with John Lauber is accurately described in The Washington Post piece. Maxwell was one of the Post’s four on-the-record sources. A fifth asked not to be named. Maxwell says the only thing not accurate is that the Post reporter said the incident occurred in a dorm room, but it happened in a common room.
“Mitt was a prankster, there’s no doubt about it. This thing with Lauber wasn’t a prank. This was, well, as a lawyer, it was an assault. It was an assault and a battery. And I’m sure that John Lauber carried it with him for the rest of his life,” Maxwell told CBS News. [...] “I’ve carried this story with me a long time. It was very disturbing. I think that view is shared by everyone involved in it,” Maxwell says. “It just was a black mark on my character that I didn’t stop it.”
One former classmate and old friend of Romney’s – who refused to be identified by name – said there are “a lot of guys” who went to Cranbrook who have “really negative memories” of Romney’s behavior in the dorms, behavior this classmate describes as “evil” and “like Lord of the Flies.”
The classmate believes Romney is lying when he claims to not remember it.
“It makes these fellows [who have owned up to it] very remorseful. For [Romney] not to remember it? It doesn’t ring true. How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?” the former classmate said.
Stu White, a former Romney classmate and close friend Romney, told ABC that the Romney campaign had approached him and several other classmates to defend Romney’s behavior in the wake of the article. It’s quite revealing none of them have stepped forward—at least not to defend Romney.
Moreover, it’s quite extraordinary that after so many years, the emotions surrounding Romney’s bullying remain so raw. Romney’s behavior has clearly haunted his classmates, and based on his remarks today, nearly a half-century later he has yet to fully confront it himself.