Society

17-Year-Old Pleads 'Responsible' to Assaulting Autistic Boy in Juvenile Court

| by Allison Geller

The older of two Maryland girls found guilty of tormenting an autistic boy pleaded “responsible” to charges, the juvenile equivalent of “guilty.”

17-year-old Lauren A. Bush is being tried as a juvenile in the case. Bush and her friend, a 15-year-old who has not been named, were accused of assaulting the 16-year-old disabled boy in March. They allegedly abused him by forcing him to walk on a frozen lake and refusing to help when he fell in the water, holding him at knifepoint, and attempting to force him into having sex with a dog.

The girls filmed the assault on the 15-year-old’s cell phone. They were netted by the sheriff’s department when another Chopticon High School student tipped them off about the videos, according to the Washington Post.

Bush pleaded “responsible” to both misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault and distribution of an obscene video.  

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Despite the outrage that the case provoked, St. Mary’s County Circuit Judge David Densford transferred Bush’s case from adult to juvenile court.

“The conduct on the DVDs, and her statements to the police are outrageous. There is a lack of empathy . . . a dramatic lack of empathy,” Densford said. “You look at them and say, ‘Why would any human being treat another person like this?'"

However, the judge concluded that this “ugliness” “did not constitute the “sort of criminal activity that should subject Lauren Bush to the Jessup women’s prison.”

The victim’s parents are divided about the fate of their son’s tormentor. Having seen the videos, his mother things that juvenile rehabilitation is appropriate. His father disagrees, believing Bush presents a “danger to herself and to the community.”

Bush has been receiving treatment at a juvenile rehabilitation facility, where she has been found to present a “low-to-moderate” risk to herself and others.

Her father, Larry Bush, testified on his daughter’s behalf, telling the court that she had apologized to the victim and that the Bush family was “100 percent committed to getting Lauren all the help she needs.”

Sources: Associated Press, Washington Post