Four boys from Tampa, Florida may spend the rest of their lives behind bars for what they probably thought was a locker room prank.
But their 13-year-old victim certainly doesn’t see it as a prank.
The teens are accused of repeatedly sodomizing the victim with a broomstick and hockey stick. The assaults continued for two months. Despite the victim’s screams and numerous witnesses, no one came forward to report the crimes.
In fact, the alleged attacks only came to light when the victim was questioned about another incident, a fight on a football field. After revealing the attacks, his four accused attackers each gave written statements to the school, in which they all confessed to sexually assaulting the victim.
Now they are being charged as adults with four counts each of sexual battery. They could be sentenced to 120 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
This is clearly a horrifying story, made all the more so by the fact that so many students must have heard or seen the attacks and no one alerted authorities. I can’t even imagine the shame and fear the victim must have felt that made him keep silent.
But do you think the boys should be charged as adults? What they did was atrocious, but should you really be punished for the rest of your life for decisions you made at 14? Yes, they were stupid and cruel and vicious. But should they go to jail for the rest of their lives? Does the fact that they did this at 14 mean they’re any more likely to do it again when they’re 21?
I don’t know the answer. When I think about this happening to one of my own sons, it makes me sick to my stomach. And I would most certainly want his attackers to pay. But what price?