Assault Charges Dropped Against Teen Over Outburst
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2004
FRESNO, CALIFORNIA--Assault charges were dropped Wednesday against a 15-year-old boy accused of shoving his teacher and throwing chairs at his school.
Police arrested Colin Frates in March after a special education teacher at Reyburn Intermediate School reported that he shoved her and threw two chairs against a wall.
Frates insisted that he only tapped her shoulder to get her attention.
Fresno County prosecutors told the court that psychiatric exams have confirmed Frates has Asperger syndrome, considered a form of autism. They said that not only does he not understand the consequences of his "outburst", he also would not be able to understand the court proceedings nor help in his own defense.
The judge ordered Frates to seek professional help to work on his social skills.
According to United Press International, the arrest drew protests from numerous mental health professionals and disability rights advocates who said prosecuting Frates would set a dangerous precedent for anyone with similar disabilities.
Colin's father, Mike Frates, told KSFN News the family was concerned that if the charges weren't dropped, his son might have been sent to an institution.
"The thought that they were going to take him away . . . I don't think we slept for days," Mr. Frates said. "Just worrying about the possibility of it was a nightmare."
The school suspended Colin for two days.
The judge did order Colin to see a doctor to work on his social skills.