Police: 4 face charges for pulling down pants of teen with autism, posting video on social media
Police in Bergen County say that four people – including a 10-year-old boy – are facing charges for harassing a 14-year-old boy with autism and posting a video of the incident on social media.
The incident happened at Berdan Grove Park in Fairlawn. It is a park built for children with special needs. Police say that the victim, a 14-year-old boy who is developmentally disabled, was bullied at the park and that the bullying led to criminal charges.
According to authorities, a 13-year-old boy held the victim while the 10-year-old pulled down his pants and underwear. Two girls, ages 19 and 16, were standing by and got involved - but not to help the teen, according to police.
“They chose to get a cellphone out, they taped what was going on and possibly egging the boys on and posted it on Snapchat and TikTok for all to see,” says Fairlawn Police Sgt. Brian Metzler.
Metzler says that the teen victim in the video was visibly upset at the ordeal. Police were given access to the video through the Board of Education. They were able to track down the people involved.
“You would expect the 19-year-old to see something like that and instead of becoming participants, they would step in and say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be doing this,’” Metzler says.
Parents at Thomas Jefferson Middle School – the school that the victim attends - were shocked by the incident.
“I was disgusted by what I saw,” said one mother who wished to remain anonymous. “I immediately contacted the school principal, and he let me know the police were already contacted.”
Thomas Jefferson Middle School Principal Michael Weaver said in a letter to parents, "I would encourage you to speak with your child about responsible social media use and, more importantly, what it means to be a good and decent person (especially when you see the mistreatment of others)."
The 19-year-old was identified at Alis Fidrva. She is being charged with invasion of privacy, cyber harassment and harassment. The 16-year-old will also face the same charges, but as a juvenile. Her name was not released due to her age.
The 13- and 10-year-old boys will face harassment charges. Their names were also not released.
It was unclear if any of the juveniles would be facing disciplinary action at school.