Two teenage Maryland girls who forced an autistic classmate to engage in a sex act with the family pet and walk on an ice-covered pond have both been tried as juveniles for their crimes, avoiding lengthy prison sentences.
The girls, who shot cell phone videos of their bullying of a 16-year-old boy, will serve several years in juvenile detention. Lauren A. Bush, 17, the older of the pair charged in the assault pleaded guilty Thursday in St. Mary’s County juvenile court to two misdemeanor charges, reports The Washington Post.
The high school junior was initially charged as an adult with first-degree assault, false imprisonment and child-pornography solicitation. She had faced up to 80 years in prison if convicted in adult court. At next week’s sentencing she faces a maximum four-year sentence in a secure juvenile detention facility.
Their victim and classmate from Chopticon High School told a reporter last month that he didn’t want to see the girls prosecuted for committing and filming the bullying.
Bush and a 15-year-old girl were arrested in March by the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Tim Cameron told The New York Daily News the “heinous” allegations in this case are some of the worst he has ever seen.
The 15-year-old assailant had asked a judge for leniency, but was instead sentenced in April to a maximum of six years in a Maryland juvenile detention facility, reports The Washington Post. Judge Michael Stamm rejected the girl’s request to serve her punishment in a community-based treatment program, saying her actions were “horrific.” The girl posed a danger to the community, he said.
Between December and March, the suspects recorded themselves assaulting their victim by pointing a knife to his throat, making him walk across a frozen pond and kicking him in the groin, the sheriff said.
Yet the victim, identified only as Michael in an interview with The Washington Post, told the newspaper he considers the girls his friends and is unhappy that his parents pursued criminal charges.
The high-functioning sophomore described the knife incident as “a game gone wrong. It was a sick game, kind of creepy. But they didn’t have a serious intention about killing me,” he told the Post.
Cameron told the newspaper perhaps the most appalling charge was a sexual act they allegedly coerced the victim into performing.
“The victim was forced to masturbate and then copulate with a family pet,” he said. “It’s beyond comprehension.”
Michael said he would like the charges dropped against the girls he still calls friends.
“It really makes me upset that my parents want to see them in jail,” Michael told the Post. “Because I really like them.”
“My son is a staunch defender of his tormentors; it’s embarrassing,” his father told the Post. “He may be more disabled than I convinced myself that he was and maybe more lost than I realized. That’s something I am going to have to deal with on a later day.”
The suspects were arrested after one girl's mother found the video on her daughter’s phone and alerted the school resource officer at the high school they both attended in Mechanicsville.
Our related story:Autistic Maryland Boy Wants Charges Dropped Against 'Friends' Who Tormented Him