Romney says sorry for alleged high school bullying

(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney is apologizing after reports of an incident nearly half a century ago that one witness calls "an assault and battery" on a boarding school classmate who turned out to be gay.

The Washington Post quotes other witnesses who say the boy was held down, screaming and crying, while Romney bullied him.

On the campaign trail, Romney apologized Thursday for pranks he was said to have committed in school 46 years ago.

"I'm sure, like other folks, I've done stupid things in high school, and if I offended anybody by that, I of course apologize."

It was at a Michigan prep school, as first reported by the Post, where a young Romney, well-known for his gregarious side, allegedly pulled a prank some say went too far.

In the incident, Romney and other students allegedly ganged up on one teen, described as a non-conformist at the straight-laced school. They tackled him, pinned him down, and Romney cut his long hair.

A Romney classmate confirmed that account to CBS News.

Romney says he doesn't remember it happening.

The youthful experiences of presidential candidates have been dissected for years.

President Obama faced questions about using cocaine and marijuana -- something he admitted in one of his books.

Mr. Obama wrote, "I spent the last years of high school in a daze, drank beer heavily and tried drugs enthusiastically."

Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton famously side-swiped the drug issue.

In March of 1992, Mr. Clinton said, "I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn't like it, and didn't inhale, and never tried it again."

Romney says he's changed since high school. He got married, and did missionary work overseas.

Still, in an interview on "CBS This Morning" last week, his wife, Ann Romney, remembered a younger Mitt Romney who liked to joke around.

"I still look at him as the -- as the boy that I met in high school when he was playing all the jokes and -- and really just being crazy, pretty crazy," she said.

We talked to some of Romney's other classmates. They said they had never heard of this incident, which they said is weird, because it was a very small school, they thought they would have heard of it. They said this was totally out of character for Romney -- that he was really funny but he was never malicious.

To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Jan Crawford On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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