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Greg Barrett walked up to the lectern, nervously slinking past the empty rows of seats behind him. Underneath the glare of the fluorescent lights, a few beads of sweat glistened on his brow.
It was a sleepy Monday night and attendance at the school board meeting was sparse.
As Barrett began speaking, his gaze was laser-focused on on Lance Hindt, the superintendent of a large, Houston-area school district.
He and Hindt had gone to school together in Katy, Texas, more than three decades ago, Barrett explained. He then launched into an account of how he had been bullied as a child because of his legal name: Greg Gay.
“I was bullied. Unbelievably bullied,” Barrett said. “I started out and I had teachers that bullied me, I had kids that bullied me, even the coaches. I had nobody to turn to.”
One day at lunch, Barrett said, some classmates took things to a new level of humiliation and violence.
"This left me scarred for the rest of my life," Barrett told reporters after the meeting. "Even now, over thirty years later, I'm still dealing with this. But I'll tell you what, now that the world knows who and what Lance Hindt really is — I bet I sleep soundly tonight!"
When his ordeal was over, Barrett said, he did his best to compose himself, rinsed his face off, and went “straight to the principal’s office.”
The principal, unbelievably, brushed off his concerns and sent him home, saying, "the kids won't always be like that," Barrett said.
The experience left him despondent and contemplating suicide. He went home and found his father's gun...
“Well, I went home and I got the .45 out of my father’s drawer and put it in my mouth,” Barrett said. “Because at this point I had nobody — nobody in the school system — to help me. Is that the way this is going to be?”
He then gestured at the superintendent, sitting quietly in the audience. A look of terror and embarrassment crept across Hindt's face as he anticipated what would come next.
“Lance, you were the one that shoved my head into that urinal,” Barrett said.
Visibly upset, he threw his hands in the air and walked away from the microphone, leaving the room in stunned silence. From the elevated school board seats came some murmuring.
A small laugh could be heard. A reporter for the Houston Chronicle would later claim that laugh came from none other than Lance Hindt himself.
“Want to debate?” Barrett called as he headed for the exit. “Because I got witnesses that were there when it happened!”
The superintendent has since said he does not recall Barrett from his childhood and denied the accusations as “simply not true.”
“It was difficult for me to listen on Monday night as this man recounted a bullying incident he said occurred more than 35 years ago,” Hindt said in a statement. “As superintendent in three school districts in Texas, I have the respect and admiration of thousands of educators and students. My conduct has always been above reproach. I don't remember this sad, angry man and I wouldn't have wasted my time on him in high school, either. I have done nothing wrong."
But then, what exactly, did Barrett claim that Hindt and his buddies did to him?
Buckle your seatbelt, because it's going to be a bumpy ride, y'all...
Barrett claims that Hindt and a few of his buddies assaulted him in the boy's bathroom.
Recalling the incident for a reporter, Barrett recounted the alleged abuse in shocking detail.
"They kept calling me homophobic slurs," he said. "I won't say which ones because I don't want to hurt anyone, or even bring to mind incidences that other people have dealt with."
When Barrett told them that he wasn't gay, he claims Hindt responded, "Sure you are. Here, let's test that theory and let you suck it."
When Barrett tried to make a run for it, the two other boys grabbed him and drug him back into the bathroom. As he screamed for help, Hindt put his hand over his mouth and whispered, "You're not going anywhere, sissy."
The boys began taking turns punching him in his stomach, face, arms, and back.
While this was going on, Hindt relieved himself in a stopped-up urinal.
"This piss is for you," Hindt said. "I know you'll like the taste."
Then, according to Barrett's account, Hindt shoved his head into the urinal.
After several minutes of struggle, Barrett collapsed on the cold tile floor. He said he remembers lying on the ground in the fetal position — with a busted lip, and covered in urine — as his assailants repeatedly kicked him.
Over thirty years later, what was Hindt's response to these accusations? Well, you might just be surprised...
In addition to the many things Hindt said in his rambling statement, he did confirm that he and Barrett had gone to the same school.
“And my junior high principal — Mr. McMeans — would never have let me (or anyone else) get away with the actions Barrett described,” Hindt said. “I do not suggest that Mr. Barrett was not bullied, he probably was. You can bring that on yourself. I just know I wasn't a part of it."
Barrett, who briefly spoke with reporters the day after the school board meeting, has not given any interviews since that time.
A man who answered the phone number listed for him identified himself as Barrett’s father, and told the Houston Chronicle that his son "had been severely bullied at school growing up."
“It was not pretty,” the man said. “Nevertheless, that was 35 years ago. He has moved on since then. He had an opportunity to say something to this man, and he has.”
Barrett has since said that he simply wants Hindt to apologize for what happened, but that he shouldn't loose his job as superintendent.
Unfortunately, Hindt didn't apologize. In fact, it was quite the opposite...
“People change. They do stupid stuff when they’re young,” Barrett told the newspaper. “I just want him to acknowledge it, say he’s sorry and make some changes so this doesn’t continue to happen.”
Still, Barrett wasn’t pleased with Hindt’s supposed chuckle at the meeting.
“That really ticked me off,” he said. “When he laughed, I thought, ‘Maybe this man hasn’t changed.’”
Hindt subsequently posted a response to his Facebook page, saying, " will never apologize to this man for something he dreamed up in his sicko mind. He's a looser. He's not a winner and that's obvious to anyone. It's pathetic to highjack a school board meeting to roll around in your dork drama from thirty years ago."
Hindt has since deleted the post.
And, of course, the school district itself had to weigh in on the matter...
A statement released by the district said, in part, "Bullying is not taken lightly in the Katy Independent School District, which enrolls more than 75,000 students and is among the fastest-growing school districts in Texas."
As a part of that issuance, Hindt was quoted as saying:
“At Katy ISD, we are always looking for ways to make our campuses and our students safe. I am proud to lead a district that is not afraid to confront bullying behavior — whether in person or online. We are always challenging our teachers and principals to identify harmful behavior and to intervene as necessary.”