"The girl, Ashley, got blamed for Ryan's death, and she was going to commit suicide," Halligan responded. "Depression killed my son, and I did not want to blame Ashley for Ryan's death. I visited with her, and she was beyond being chocked up. She held onto me, not saying a word, and I said, 'You did a mean thing, but this is not your fault.'"
Tormented Ashley felt she needed to apologize; she appeared with Halligan on a widely viewed national T.V. program, "Prime Time" with Dianne Sawyer. Ashley wanted to help ; she would send a strong statement to those who bully.
"As far as the bully, I lost it. I wanted to crush that kid and kill him," Halligan said. "My wife, my hero saved me from doing something drastic. The Essex, Vt., detective said the kid was a smart aleck and that there was no criminal law that we could throw at the kid."
Halligan posed a challenging question for the Poultney parents, teachers and students gathered at the meeting: "Did you know that most schools deal with harassment and bullying like a conflict resolution? Does that work for you?"
One teen stood up.
"No-students only say what needs to be said just to get out of the office," the unidentified student said. "Retaliation occurs when called a 'rat', 'baby', 'tattletale', and things get worse. There are no checks and balances, and it's a waste of time."
Another student said, "It's no big deal. The bully gains more power; they continue to bully all over again."
Halligan stressed the fact that, at least in the work place, you never-ever-bring two employees into a room at the same time if there's a harassment issue.
"So why do it in school," he asked.
"Two months after Ryan's death, I received a call from another parent and heard that the bully made fun of how Ryan killed himself," said Halligan. "I grabbed my keys and headed to the five roads traffic light in Essex. I wanted to crush that kid, but the very long light changed my drastic thoughts, not to mention I heard my wife's words in my mind."
When Halligan rang the doorbell, the bully answered the door; he quickly disappeared inside the house when his mother and father stepped to the door.
"I asked that the boy return to the room," said Halligan. "The kid looked like he would faint."
Halligan confronted the boy.
"You have no idea about the amount of pain you caused my son," he said. "You're still bullying him, and he cannot defend himself. You're lying to your parents and me. I refuse to believe that you're that heartless and don't have a soul."
Next week: The tragedy of Ryan Halligan's death.