By Albert Lin
The teenagers responsible for dumping a bucket of human waste on an autistic boy in a fake Ice Bucket Challenge have been identified, but it’s still unclear whether they will face charges.
Bay Village, Ohio, police have not released the names of the bullies, who are believed to be classmates of the victim at Bay High School in this Cleveland suburb. “We are conducting a comprehensive investigation,” Police Chief Mark Spaetzel told CNN.
Earlier, Spaetzel told Cleveland.com that the video is one of the most disturbing things he has seen in his career. “To me, it’s reprehensible … that these kids would take advantage of a vulnerable teenager,” Spaetzel said.
The incident was first reported last Wednesday by FOX 8 News in Cleveland. The boy’s mother, Diane, told the station that the family discovered video of the incident on the boy’s phone. It shows the 15-year-old standing in a driveway wearing only underwear, as a stream of brownish fluid envelops him. Diane says the fluid was a mixture of feces, urine, spit and cigarette butts.
“Once we found out about it, we were just horrified,” Diane told FOX 8. “I want these kids held accountable for what they did to him and they targeted somebody who just didn’t really understand what was going on.”
Diane says one of the perpetrators used her son’s own phone to record the incident, which happened before the start of the school year at a private residence, and then posted the video on Instagram. “[My son] was embarrassed because he did not know what the contents were until afterwards and then he didn’t want anybody to know,” Diane said.
Detective Kevin Krolkosky told FOX 8 that charges could be brought against the teens because the incident is more than a simple prank. “Obviously, if possible, we do want to hold those individuals accountable for their actions,” Krolkosky said.
Ian Friedman, a Cleveland-based criminal defense attorney, told FOX 8 that while charges could range from misdemeanor assault to disorderly conduct, there is a lot of gray area. “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,” he said.
The act won’t qualify as a hate crime because Ohio law only protects race, religion and national origin. A bill to add disability and orientation to the law is in the committee stage.
The bullies could also face consequences in school. In a letter posted on the Bay Village City School District website last week, Superintendent Clint Keener wrote, “While the incident happened outside of our school day and off campus, our schools will take all appropriate action available to us in terms of disciplinary action once the investigation is complete.”
In a follow-up letter posted on Tuesday, Keener wrote: “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.”
The incident drew the attention of three celebrities, who each pledged $10,000 to a reward fund. Cleveland native Drew Carey started the ball rolling last Saturday with this tweet:
If the Bay Village PD wants to start a reward fund to find who did this, contact me. I’ll donate $10k. http://t.co/ugqeLbu5ob
— Drew Carey (@DrewFromTV) September 6, 2014
A day later, Jenny McCarthy, whose son, Evan, has autism, matched Carey’s pledge:
McCarthy’s new husband, Donnie Wahlberg, then added $10,000 of his own:
But Spaetzel said the money wouldn’t be necessary because the perpetrators have already been identified.