By Todd Richissin
St. Mary's County, Maryland – With a 15-year-old assailant of an autistic boy already sentenced to six years, a second teenager is now awaiting a decision on whether she'll be tried as an adult for her part in the torment, and prosecutors say more disabled victims may have been targeted.
Separately from the case at hand, the sister of a mentally disabled man said the girls put her brother's name on a gay website, attracting men who showed up at their house.
In the current case, prosecutors say the girls recorded their cruelty on a cellphone, including luring the autistic 16-year-old southern Maryland boy onto a frozen pond, where he fell in multiple times, and encouraging him to try to have sex with his family’s dog.
On Thursday, Judge Michael Stamm sternly rejected the 15-year-old girl's request to spare her a stiff term of incarceration, the Washington Post reports.
St. Mary’s prosecutor John Pleisse said authorities also have been investigating allegations she and her friend bullied two other people — including a second disabled student at Chopticon High School.
“We’re still investigating [one youth], and we know about another disabled person that was taken advantage of,” Pleisse told Stamm.
The other girl involved in the case, Lauren A. Bush, 17, has been charged as an adult with first-degree assault, false imprisonment and child-pornography solicitation and, if convicted, faces up to 80 years in prison.
She is accused of holding a knife to the boy’s throat, and is undergoing several weeks of psychological examinations at a state juvenile detention before a May hearing on whether her case should be transferred to a juvenile court.
The autistic boy's reaction to the charges against the girls added to the heartbreaking nature of the case. He had called the girl his "friends" and said he did not want them charged.
His parents, though, wanted justice pursued, and in Thursday's hearing the boy's father took the stand and addressed the girl directly, the Post reported.
“Your actions have betrayed the trust of someone who thought you were their friend,” he said. “I can say that [my son] almost never smiles, and I hope in time he will heal. I also hope that you will grow to understand that it is wrong to prey upon the weak in our community.”
After the sentencing, Sgt. Cara Grumbles, a spokeswoman for the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department, said the detective handling the autistic boy’s case interviewed the father of another disabled young man who had been bullied by the girls. The father, however, has declined to press charges on behalf of his son, who is now 22 and lives in another state, the Post reported.
His older sister told the paper in an interview that he’d lived near the 15-year-old and that both she and Bush harassed her family numerous times.
“They put my brother’s name on a gay website, and his address, and these two men showed up at our house,” said the sister, who requested anonymity in order to protect her brother. “We were having a lot of problems with [the younger girl] and Lauren coming over and destroying my dad’s property.”