Back in March, I mentioned a horrific story out of the Maryland side of the DC area. Two girls were arrested for tormenting an autistic classmate with very limited social skills over several months, even forcing him to walk on a partially-frozen pond and refusing to help him get out when he fell in. Well, last week the bill came due for the younger of the two assailants. After pleading guilty earlier this month, a 15-year-old girl was sentenced to a maximum of six years in a juvenile facility.
Before she was sentenced Thursday to a maximum of six years in a state juvenile detention center, the 15-year-old assailant of an autistic boy in Southern Maryland pleaded for leniency. The girl, who had used her cellphone to record the abuse, asked a St. Mary’s County judge if she could avoid jail and instead be placed in a community-based treatment program.Stamm was putting it extremely mildly. The girl and her older friend, 17-year-old Lauren Bush, forced the boy to perform sex acts which they recorded on the younger girl's cell phone. This ordeal came to light when the 15-year-old's mother found the videos and reported them to law enforcement. The girl wrote an apology to the boy's family after pleading guilty to assault and displaying an obscene photograph of a child, and through her attorney admitted responsibility for her actions. However, her attorney says that Bush was the more aggressive of the two, and that his client's main mistake was getting mixed up with "the wrong person at the wrong time."
But Judge Michael Stamm sternly rejected the Chopticon High School student’s request, declaring that her actions and those of her accomplice — which included luring the autistic 16-year-old onto a frozen pond, where he fell in multiple times, and encouraging him to try to have sex with his family’s dog — were “horrific.” The 15-year-old, he said, posed a danger to the community.
County prosecutor John Pleisse says that his office has been investigating allegations that the two girls bullied another mentally and physically disabled classmate at Chopticon High School in Morganza for several years. His sister said that the two girls even went as far as to put his name and address on a gay Web site. This man's family declined to press charges; he is now 22 and living outside of Maryland. Small wonder that Stamm figuratively laughed at the girl's claim that community treatment would be best for her, replying sarcastically, "Of course you do."
Bush is facing charges of assault, false imprisonment and solicitation of child porn in adult court. I have to admit being mildly disappointed her 15-year-old friend wasn't facing adult charges as well. If there is ever a circumstance that calls for a kid to be tried as an adult, it's this one. Taking advantage of someone with mental and physical challenges is one thing that society simply cannot tolerate. It takes a really depraved person to do something like this, and the message needs to be sent that those who commit crimes like this will be dealt with severely.
Reading this story, however, I suspect that prosecutors didn't want to put the boy and his family through the trauma of drawing this thing out longer than necessary. Indeed, the boy really doesn't understand what those girls did to him due to his limited social skills, and even hopes to resume his friendship with them even though his parents have talked and talked with him about what happened. If that's the case, ten to one Bush's attorney is leaning on her to plead guilty as well. Something like this is not going to play well at all with a jury.