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Published: Thursday, 7/3/2008

2 female students charged in beating


WAYLAND, Mich. - Two female high school students from western Michigan who were videotaped attacking a classmate were charged yesterday with aggravated assault.

Crystal VanderLaan and Sydnee Rae Longhurst are accused of beating a Wayland Union High School classmate on June 10 as another student, who has not been charged, videotaped the attack.

The video was posted on the Internet shortly after school ended, Wayland Police Chief Dan Miller said.

The attack also was caught on tape by a security camera at the school. The victim suffered bruises, according to the police report.

The VanderLaan girl has been expelled, her attorney said. The Longhurst teen has moved from the school district and could not be disciplined by the school board at its Monday meeting.

The girls face one count each of aggravated assault in Allegan County Family Court. If convicted, they face a maximum of one year in a juvenile detention facility and a $1,000 fine.

The two were upset over the victim's public displays of affection, according to the police report. The victim told police she believes it was because of her sexual orientation.

Crystal VanderLaan's attorney, James Dimitriou II, says his client is not "an anti-gay person." The other defendant did not have an attorney on record with the court.

Mr. Dimitriou says his client will ask to return to school after meeting the board's requirements, which include completing anger management training and making restitution to the victim. She is eligible to return after 180 school days.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 21.

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