Defendant in Missouri 'extreme bullying' case convicted

A St. Louis County man has been convicted of beating and sexually humiliating two teenage boys in a case of what prosecutors called "extreme bullying."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 22-year-old Nicholas Nettles of Northwoods was the last of four defendants. The men held the teens in a home for several hours in October 2011, recording the attacks and posting them on Facebook.

Police say the teens, ages 16 and 17, were tied to a chair with duct tape, thrown down stairs, beaten with sticks and burned with cigarettes. They were forced to shower naked together, kiss each other and stand outdoors wearing girls' underwear.

Nettles was convicted Wednesday of eight crimes, including kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor and third-degree assault. Sentencing is Jan. 31.

The victims knew their attackers. The crime was reported after a mother saw her son looking at a Facebook posting.

Defense attorneys claimed it was horseplay that got out of hand.

But prosecutor Sheila Whirley said the crime was "extreme bullying" and "worse than bullying. This is criminal conduct that goes beyond bullying. They just wanted to victimize somebody."

The incident began when the attackers called over one of the teens as he walked down a street. Police say they were already victimizing him when they phoned the second victim, telling him to bring duct tape to repair a chair.

Walter Worthan was convicted in May of felonious restraint, sexual exploitation of a minor and misdemeanor assault, but acquitted of kidnapping and assault. He is serving seven years in prison. Nettles' brother, 23-year-old Brandon Nettles, was sentenced to seven years, and 18-year-old Jervon Vaughn was sentenced to five years.

Whirley said the victims are still trying to recover.

"It was really a nightmare for them," Whirley said.