“She put my son through hell. She put me in hell. I want her arrested for false statements.”
That’s what Laura Giacobbe, the mother of the boy who’s been accused of setting his six-year-old neighbor on fire earlier this year in Bridgeport, Connecticut, thinks of the victim’s mother, now that new surveillance footage of the incident has been released. That footage seems to show a different story than was previously claimed and suggests bullying had nothing to do with it.
Maria Rua, the victim’s mother, has claimed that Giacobbe’s son, eight-year-old Stephano, doused a soccer ball in gasoline, lit it on fire, and then kicked it into her son Dominick’s face.
“I want her to get arrested because I don’t think it’s fair. It’s defamation of character,” Giacobbe explained to the New York Post.
“She slandered my family.”
Giacobbe might have a point. Newly-released backyard surveillance footage of the incident, which happened on April 24, seems to show a different story than the one that had attracted so much national attention.
Police have concluded that there was no wrongdoing in this case—aside from the obvious one of a group of bored, unsupervised kids doing something extremely dangerous and stupid, with predictable results.
The video shows Dominick playing with Giacobbe’s sons, Stephano and eleven-year-old Lorenzo. At one point, they douse a soccer ball with gasoline, set it on fire, and then begin kicking it around the yard. Why it was necessary to set the ball on fire before kicking it remains unclear, but at the very least suggests that someone has a budding pyromaniac on their hands.
Rua has claimed that the boys set the ball on fire, and deliberately threw it into Dominick’s face—the footage, however, doesn’t seem to corroborate that story. The whole incident, meanwhile, attracted a great deal of national attention, with Rua playing up the bullying angle.
A GoFundMe page was even established to help with Dominick’s medical bills, which raised more than $500,000. A parade of first responders was also organized in Dominick’s honor as he lay in the hospital, and he was invited by the New York Yankees to tour Yankee Stadium and visit the field before a game.
That last one was the final straw for Giacobbe.
“Her child got to go to Yankee Stadium while my child sat inside in fear because of all the statements made against him,” she said. Giacobbe also pointed out that her older son, Lorenzo, had done his best to help Dominick by trying to put out the fire.
“[Lorenzo] took his bare hands and smacked the fire out of his face, or else he would have been running upstairs with the fire on his face because [Rua] never came downstairs,” she told the Post. She also claims that it was Rua’s responsibility to be watching the boys and ensuring they didn’t get into any mischief.
“I trusted her to be watching those children.”
For her part, Rua denies Giacobbe’s allegations and responded to them by telling the Post that Giacobbe was a “liar” and a “narcissist,” before claiming that the newly-released video was doctored.
“The edited video,” Rua said, “it’s all edited. It took a month and a half to come out. The Bridgeport Police have the actual footage from that day or they’re supposed to.”
But Giacobbe isn’t having any of it.
“Give the money back, Maria,” she said, “to families that do have children who are very ill who need the money. Give it to the burn unit. I mean, enough is enough! She made a lie. This was a lie. She used him…she used her child to get that money.”
According to Giacobbe’s attorney, the family is even considering some form of legal action, given all the threats they’ve received online. Meanwhile, little Dominick seems to be healing quite well, with only a few red scars visible on his forehead.
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