Wamback's family has done a brilliant job, since the attack, of making sure their story got out to the media. Jonathan was an innocent victim of a gang. He had attracted the gang's attention by trying to protect other victims of their bullying, and in one case by painting over some of their graffiti. He had also paid at least some attention to the gang leader's girlfriend, without realizing she and the leader were an item. His parents had ignored warning signs that he was being victimized--indeed, they had started to think he was becoming a bit of a tough customer himself--so they were filled with remorse when he was beaten so severely.
The story was presented again and again as an example of how Canada's Young Offenders Act doesn't work--the attackers should have been tried as adults, the sentences should have been more severe, etc.
As far as I can discover, the attackers have never told their story in public. But the story of Jonathan good vs. other boys evil, which actually made it into a TV movie, seems a bit overdrawn.
"Intrigued by Jonathan's moxy [in protecting another kid], tough girl Courtney [the gang leader's girlfriend] leads him away, both delighting Jon and angering Kyle." So not only did Jon not actively hit on this girl, but he attracted her attention simply by being both tough and noble. Some weeks later: "Outside the washroom Jon is stunned to see Courtney with Kyle - for the first time he realizes they're a couple." He never asked himself what exactly made her a "tough girl"? He never had a single clue? Did he like tough girls in general? On the day of the beating, he is "lured into a trap" by means of, you guessed it, Courtney phoning him. Did he ever phone her? Did they ever go for a walk together in a lonely spot at his instigation? Did he always play the passive role in anything questionable, and the active role only when there was a chance to be noble?
Jon is not alone--he makes contact with other young men. "Afterward, he's approached by Gord Nelson and Jeff Walters, two cool guys who profess to be committed to standing up to Kyle's gang. They come across a Skulls tag (graffiti) spray-painted on a warehouse wall. Jon impresses them when he climbs up and spray-paints over it, turning it into a sword ("tagged over" - thus Tagged). They notify him that by doing so he's effectively declared war on the Skulls."
One thing that provokes the beating: "To make things worse Gord has painted racist remarks over a Skrulls tag in the park washroom and the gang jumps to the conclusion that it was done by Jon." Gosh, what would make "the gang" think that? The fact that Jon had actually painted over some of their grafitti before? Maybe young people have too much imagination, but isn't it possible the anti-Jon gang (the Skulls) came to the conclusion that Jon was in another, er, gang? Isn't it possible that he actually, er, was? Racist remarks: is it possible that Jon and his friends were white, in an upscale subdivision called Stonehaven, and at least some of the Skulls were non-white, and from time to time were made to feel unwelcome?
One highlight: "At a school dance the gang converges on Jon, suckering him into pushing Kyle to the ground." Jon actually pushes the other kid to the ground, but he's suckered into it.
The Skulls follow him into the school washroom where they rough him up and rip his shirt. Just as they're about to attack him Gord and Jeff break in on the scene. With the odds evened-up the Skulls take off leaving Jon with a final threat.
So today we get an update: Jon is at university, living on his own, still suffering from injuries inflicted during the beating 10 years ago. It is difficult to read the text in the Star, what with the halo.
My favourite part:
But Wamback can also see an upside to what happened to him. "Before the injury, I wasn't a scholar, to say the least."
Oh really? What were you like Jon? How did you spend your time, either in school or your free time?
Another detail: Jon walked home after the beating, and then stayed at home, I believe saying he didn't need to go to the hospital, before he was finally taken there. He may have suffered a serious brain injury partly because of this delay. He may have been trying to avoid telling his parents what was going on.