Judge puts girl in secured facility for assault on ‘vulnerable’ boy
Her family sought placement in community home
A St. Mary’s judge ordered Thursday that a teenage girl, who admitted her involvement earlier this month to charges of second-degree assault and displaying an obscene photograph of a boy, be held in a secure facility, potentially until she is 21.
The 15-year-old girl, along with her lawyer and parents, sought her placement in a community-based residential program, but the judge agreed with a recommendation by a prosecutor and a department of juvenile services agent that the girl needed a more confined setting for her rehabilitation.
“This young man was vulnerable. You groomed him for your own selfish fun,” Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm said to the girl after he viewed in his chambers a cellphone video recovered during the police investigation. “The behavior was horrific, and now it’s time for us to rehabilitate you. It’s going to be up to you how long you stay there.”
The 16-year-old boy has a form of autism, according to authorities. Earlier during Thursday’s hearing, his father said to the girl, “It is wrong to prey upon the weak in our community.”
St. Mary’s State’s Attorney John Pleisse argued that text messages between the girl and an older teenager also charged in the case indicate at least one “other disabled person that was taken advantage of.” In the case presented this week, the prosecutor said, the girl in court befriended the boy and “was part and parcel of the whole thing.”
James Tanavage, the girl’s lawyer, said his client accepted responsibility for her role in what happened.
The prosecutor said at the 15-year-old’s earlier plea hearing that she and the boy were students at Chopticon High School, and that during six to eight encounters between last December and February, she and the other girl engaged in “clearly despicable behavior” with the boy.
The older suspect in the case, 17-year-old Lauren Ashley Bush, has been charged in circuit court with first-degree assault, false imprisonment and inducing the boy to be a subject of a performance depicting sexual conduct and sadomasochistic abuse. Bush, previously on house arrest, was sent to a facility this week for an evaluation on whether the charges against her should be transferred to juvenile court.
St. Mary’s detectives filed district court charging papers last month alleging that cellphone videos showed Bush assaulting the boy at his Mechanicsville home, depicted the boy and the younger girl sitting on a bed with a dog, and recorded the boy walking onto a frozen pond, where he repeatedly fell through the ice and got back out on his own.