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Lawyer says racial epithet used as boy was burned

Medford police say story has changed

Martin and Biram Seck with their lawyer, Ozell Hudson Jr., at a press conference yesterday to discuss the attack on their son. Martin and Biram Seck with their lawyer, Ozell Hudson Jr., at a press conference yesterday to discuss the attack on their son. (GEORGE RIZER/GLOBE STAFF)

Biram Seck's anger is simmering.

"I am hoping they are going to be punished, " the Medford woman said in a soft voice yesterday. "They've ruined our life. They really hurt us as a family."

Seck was referring to three boys, one 13 years old and the two others 12, who are accused of burning Seck's 13-year-old son in August during a Medford sleepover while allegedly using racial epithets.

At a press conference in Boston yesterday, Seck and her husband, Martin, spoke out for the first time about the attack, which their attorney called a "lynching" because the goal was to deny the victim his rights.

According to the Secks and their lawyer, their son was invited to the sleepover birthday party by a 13-year-old friend. Around 4 a.m. on Aug. 27, the victim was about to use the bathroom when two middle school students grabbed him by the arms while the third attacked with an aerosol can he was using as a makeshift flamethrower, the family said.

When the can sputtered out, the attackers used a lighter, burning the victim on numerous places in his body. said Ozell Hudson Jr., the family lawyer.

"They were laughing at him and calling him the N-word," Hudson said.

He added that the Secks believe the host parents were home at the time, as was the victim's friend, but no one came to his aid as he shouted in pain.

"He screamed continuously," said Hudson. "We are not talking about one or two burns here." He said the child suffered nearly 20 burn marks over his body.

"My son, he trusted them until he was being burned," said Seck. "They have evil minds, evil minds. It's awful."

Hudson said the three suspects have been charged with criminal civil rights violations, but he faulted Medford police for what he said was their failure to immediately treat the case as a hate crime.

Hudson said the boy told police that his assailants used the racial expletive against him, but that police did not include that information in their report. Seck is black; the three defendants are white.

Medford Police Chief Leo A. Sacco Jr. disputed Hudson's account. He said his detectives asked the boy and his mother if the racial epithet was used.

"The young man - and his mom was present at the time - they were asked if in fact the word had been used," Sacco said. "And he said no. The statements were written up based on what was said. . . . The story has changed."

Sacco said his officers were moved by the victim's suffering and investigated aggressively, so much so that a juvenile court judge took what the chief called the rare step of ordering the detention of a preteen child.

"I think this is an unfair shot that's being taken right now for some ulterior motive," the chief said. "I'm not saying that it's the parents. The parents are nice people. . . . The Police Department takes these matters very seriously."

Hudson said that two of the alleged assailants were released on home confinement after being arraigned in juvenile court Sept. 18. The third suspect, who Hudson said was the person who burned the victim, was being held as a danger to society. Hudson said he believes that boy has since been released.

"I think the boys need help," Hudson said. "I hope they get help."

Corey Welford, spokesman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr., declined comment because the case involves juveniles.

Hudson said the juveniles are also facing charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and mayhem.

According to the Secks, the attack left their son emotionally and physically traumatized. Only recently was he able to return to his seventh-grade classes. They want the alleged attackers punished and educated so they do not become predators as adults.

"We want justice," Martin Seck said.

The Secks said they want Attorney General Martha Coakley's office to obtain an injunction against the three defendants.

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