Attorney: Teen thought suspects in Ice Bucket Challenge attack were his friends

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BAY VILLAGE, Ohio - From across the country to Bay Village, support is coming in for the local teenager with autism victimized by an Ice Bucket Challenge attack.

FOX 8 News first aired video Wednesday showing a Bay Village 15-year-old with autism who thought he was taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Instead, his parents said the bucket contained human waste and contacted Bay Village police, which began a criminal investigation.

“He thought these suspects were his friends, and it makes the incident that happened that much worse,” said Dean Valore, an attorney representing the victim and his family.

Bay Village Police Chief Mark Spaetzel said Tuesday investigators identified five people between the ages of 14 and 17 who were involved. He said he expects the investigation will be completed and forwarded to prosecutors by the end of this week.

Celebrities like Drew Carey, Jenny McCarthy, and Donnie Wahlberg pledged $10,000 each to help, while others touched by the story held fundraisers online.

Tuesday night, Drew Carey tweeted an update, saying he's working on what to do with the reward money.

“It runs the gambit, the full spectrum of support from the rich and the famous to the average everyday people who are just supportive and heartbroken about what's happened,” said Dean Valore, an attorney representing the victim and his family. Valore said he has known the victim’s family for 35 years and is working the case pro bono.

They haven't asked for money but many want to help. The victim’s family has been overwhelmed by offers from across the nation of cash, vacations, even cakes for the victim. Valore said he’s setting  up a fund for the family. Those wishing to reach out to them can contact the law firm Valore & Gordillo at 440-333-7330.

“Right now the family is still deciding how the money is going to be spent,” Valore said. “I'm sure there will be charitable donations down the road.”

Bay Village police and schools have been inundated with calls and emails, including offers from anti-bullying programs. Superintendent Clint Keener said in a letter posted to the district web page Tuesday, "we will consider each one carefully to determine which are the best for our students." His full message is below.

After police finish a criminal investigation, the case will be handed to prosecutors.

“We’re going to make sure justice is done,” Valore said. “I'm going to make sure that this case is handled properly and that justice is done and these kids are held accountable for this act of cruelty.”

Read much more on the Ice Bucket Challenge attack.

The following is Superintendent Clint Keener's entire letter:

Dear Bay Village students, parents, staff and community members:

The Bay Village Police Department has announced that they have identified the minors allegedly involved in the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge prank. The police will turn all evidence over to the county prosecutor to determine charges when they complete their investigation. That police work is the source of all information available to the public, and the school district will not comment on any related disciplinary measures.

The district is receiving many phone calls and emails, and while we cannot respond to each one, we want people to know that we are reading and listening to each message that comes our way. The video of the act, and the national attention it is drawing, is also generating many thousands of online comments in news forums and social media throughout the world. Most of the comments are expressions of hurt and sympathy for the student involved, which are positive and good. Unfortunately, many of these comments are unsavory, and we are disturbed that our children are reading them and witnessing a type of online behavior that we tell them is unacceptable.

Sometimes a teachable moment is unplanned. We are extremely proud of the response from our student body. They have taken this incident to heart, and they have continued their usual support of all our students, and now of this student in particular. Our staff members continue to to provide a safe and peaceful environment for learning for all our students.

Throughout the years, our schools have implemented a number of programs to promote positive character traits and to educate about bullying, one of which is the Rachel’s Challenge program. We are now receiving a number of offers from representatives of anti-bullying programs, and we will consider each one carefully to determine which are the best for our students.

The outpouring of love and caring in our community for this student is also most inspiring, and we are grateful to our residents for their support. The peaceful and constructive actions of our students and community members are teaching all our children the true meaning of compassion.

Sincerely,

Clint Keener
Superintendent

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