Karen Klein, the 68-year-old bus monitor who was cruelly harassed by four middle school students from Greece, New York, appeared on several talk shows this morning to discuss the incident which occurred this past Monday.
Speaking with Matt Lauer on the Today show, Klein said she didn't want to see the kids who tormented her charged with a crime, but still feels they should be punished for their behavior.
On Fox and Friends, Klein said she was still waiting on an apology from the students involved and their parents. When host Steve Doocy told Klein about the Indiegogo donation page raising over $125,000 to send her on a vacation, she was shocked. "Oh my God," she said. "It's unbelievable."
In fact, that fundraiser has now surpassed $280,000 and should reach $300,000 within the next few hours.
The campaign was set up by 25-year-old Toronto-based nutritionist Max Sidorov, with the intention of sending Klein on the "vacation of a lifetime." "I really felt almost heartbroken to see that people would do such a thing to a nice lady," Sidorov, himself once a victim of bullying, told the National Post. "So, I just thought I had to do something about it."
Moved by Sidorov's (somewhat self-serving) goodwill, a fellow member of the online social aggregation site Reddit started a fundraiser for him, which is now pushing $2,000. "Let's pay it forward," Casey Prince wrote yesterday. "We need to encourage all the Maxes out there."
Klein, meanwhile, told ABC News she does not intend to retire just yet.
"That's not like me," she said in response to a question about the possibility that she might resign in light of the ordeal. "I'm not a real vindictive person. I just know I want something to happen to make them [the students] realize what they did."
True to her word, Klein has decided not to file criminal charges against the four seventh-graders responsible for the verbal assault.
Police in Greece held a press conference today to provide updates on their investigation. According to Greece Police Captain Steve Chatterton, all four students have admitted to taking part in the bullying and are fully cooperating with officials.
School leaders said the children will be disciplined, but declined to elaborate.
In an interview with a local ABC affiliate, the father of one of the bullies said he was "ashamed" of his son's behavior. "He was raised to respect an older person," he said through tears. "The woman did not deserve that ... I'm sorry."
Police say several of the students and members of their families have received threats of an unspecified nature. One of the students had "over a thousand" threatening texts on his cellphone along with "over a thousand" missed calls.
Luis Recio Jr., who shot the now-infamous video, told ABC 13 he was responding to peer pressure and now feels bad about it. He offered some advice to others who might find themselves in his shoes: "If you see someone picking on someone, just tell them to stop. Don't record them and don't listen to your friends."