BAY VILLAGE, Ohio – Bay Village police say they have identified the people involved after disturbing video of an attack on a teen with autism surfaced.
The 15-year-old, who attends Bay High School, thought he was doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but his parents said other teens put human waste and cigarette butts inside the bucket instead.
Bay Village police have begun a criminal investigation. Several celebrities, including Drew Carey and Jenny McCarthy, have pledged $10,000 each to catch those responsible. Police Chief Mark Spaetzel said while police are grateful for the offer, a reward fund isn’t necessary since investigators have identified those involved.
“We are being very thorough in gathering all the necessary facts before presenting to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office,” Police Chief Mark Spaetzel said. “We are not sure when that will happen because we have additional interviews to conduct and further investigative avenues to pursue.”
Potential punishment won’t be known until the police investigation is complete. Criminal defense attorney and law professor Ian Friedman isn’t directly involved with this case but said criminal charges against the juveniles involved could range from misdemeanor assault to disorderly conduct.
“As heinous as these acts were, it’s going to be difficult because under state law there’s really not a lot of offenses that fit,” Friedman said.
He said it likely doesn’t qualify as a hate crime in the state of Ohio, which could bring harsher penalties. Current law includes hate crimes based on race, religion, or national origin, not disability. An Ohio bill, proposed by Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), would add language to include disability and sexual orientation and is in committee.
“For this poor young man that was the victim of this, hopefully he will be the person that ignites new law to protect other kids in the future,” Friedman said.
Police said the incident happened off school grounds, before the school year began. The Bay High School handbook says “a student may be disciplined for misconduct that occurs off school property but is connected to activities or incidents that have occurred on school property.”
“If there’s any link whatsoever to the school, they’ll have great discretion in bringing anything right up to suspension and expulsion, but if this is completely off grounds it may be difficult,” Friedman said.
For more coverage on the Ice Bucket Challenge attack, click here.