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UPDATE: Two clear sides to alleged Kaukauna bullying incident


KAUKAUNA, WI (WTAQ) - They say there are two sides to every story, and that's no more true than what Kaukauna police and a father believe happened in an alleged bullying incident this week.

Matt Bent posted a picture on Facebook of him with his son holding a sign accusing the Kaukauna School District of protecting bullies. The anti-bullying picture went "viral", having been shared hundreds of thousands of times.

Bent says his son, while being bullied, was body slammed to the ground during a 6th grade gym class at River View Middle School.

After an investigation, Kaukauna police believe the situation was voluntary horseplay.

“They wrestled and a move was done on the young man and he was taken down to the ground kind of hard,” John Manion, the police chief for the Kaukauna Police Department, said at a news conference Friday. “His breath was knocked out of him.”

That is what Kaukauna Police believe happened after interviewing several students and a teacher from the gym class.

“If that's what they believe they must be the most gullible police department on the face of the planet because they are buying a bag of lies and it's disgusting,” Bent told the media after the police press conference Friday.

Bent says students lied to police to stay out of trouble. Bent says he questioned his son for an hour about the situation before taking any action.

“When he looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said 'dad I swear to you on grandpa's grave that I'm telling you 100% the truth' that was good enough for me,” said Bent.

After that conversation Bent contacted police and the school. He says he posted this Facebook picture after more than 24 hours went by without any progress.

“No one gave the police department or the school time to do their investigation,” said Manion. “Many people jumped to conclusions here.”

The Kaukauna School District posted a letter on its Facebook page, which it mailed to parents Thursday. In it, Superintendent Mark Duerwaechter stated "I need to be clear; the investigation of this matter was well established and underway prior to the Facebook post."

Duerwaechter and Bent both told FOX 11 they talked for 45 minutes on Friday. They both said it was productive.

“I think we are on the same page,” said Bent.

As for police, they say they won't be looking into the matter any further.

“At no time was there any indication of intimidation or harassment, assaultive behavior or any intent to commit a criminal act,” said Manion.

“It's extremely disappointing to me that you would think the police department would look deeper maybe,” said Bent.

Bent says his intention was never to get retribution. However, authorities say this alleged bullying incident has lead to death threats.

Authorities say the threats have been directed at the police department, school officials and in some cases, their families. "It's really hypocritical I think to have this type of complaint put against us and they're doing the same type of behavior,” said Manion.

"I don't want any vigilante justice, I don't want people posting death threats, that's not the answer,” said Bent. “The answer to violence is not violence."

Bent told us he plans to send his son back to school on Tuesday, when classes resume from Spring Break.

Bent today also made other allegations of bullying on his Facebook page. FOX 11 has not been able to confirm those claims. And because of our commitment to accuracy and balanced coverage, we are not reporting those allegations at this is time.