NORTHWOODS • The last of four defendants has been convicted of beating and sexually humiliating two teenage boys in what a prosecutor called “extreme bullying.”
Nicholas Nettles, 22, of Northwoods, and three co-defendants kept the two victims in a home here for several hours in October 2011, officials said. The attack, with anti-gay overtones, was recorded on cellphone cameras and posted on Facebook.
The teens were tied to a chair with duct tape and thrown down stairs, beaten with sticks and burned with cigarettes. They also were forced to shower naked together and kiss each other, and to stand outside in girls’ underwear.
On Wednesday, a St. Louis County jury convicted Nettles of eight crimes, including kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor and third-degree assault. Judge Michael Burton set sentencing for Jan. 31.
The victims, 16 and 17, knew their attackers, police said. The incidents, at a home in the 3700 block of Avondale Avenue, were reported after a mother saw her son looking at what had been shared on Facebook.
Defense attorneys have said the video and pictures show friends in horseplay that got out of hand. Prosecutor Sheila Whirley called it an important case of “extreme bullying.”
“This is worse than bullying. This is criminal conduct that goes beyond bullying,” Whirley said Thursday. “They just wanted to victimize somebody.”
Officials said the four attackers called one teen over as he walked down the street. He had hung out with them on occasion, and thought nothing unusual of it. They were already victimizing him when they phoned the second victim, asking him to bring some duct tape to repair a chair.
The trial for Nettles, of the 6800 block of Pasadena Boulevard in Northwoods, began Monday. On Wednesday, the jury deliberated 2½ hours before convicting him.
Walter Worthan was convicted in the case in May of felonious restraint, sexual exploitation of a minor and misdemeanor assault, but acquitted of two kidnapping and a second assault charge. He is serving seven years in prison.Two co-defendants pleaded guilty to related charges. Brandon Nettles, 23, of Northwoods, was sentenced to seven years, and Jervon Vaughn, 18, of St. Louis, was sentenced to five years. Nicholas and Brandon Nettles are brothers.
The victims are “trying to recover, still, after all this time,” Whirley said. “It was really a nightmare for them.”