Illinois state law regards battery against another person as aggravated, i.e., more serious and subject to harsher penalties, if the alleged victim has a disability. A 15-year-old girl with special needs reportedly became the victim of a beating in Cook County, Illinois, last week at the hands of peers. The four girls, ages 13 through 15, now face charges of aggravated battery in connection with the alleged attack.
Video purported to show the alleged attack emerged on social media a few days thereafter. The video reportedly shows the girl screaming and trying to protect herself as several other girls surround her while throwing punches. It is not clear who recorded the video, but whoever it was reportedly started laughing when a female figure wearing shorts and a black tank top appeared to initiate the incident by punching the girl from behind.
The girl with special needs reportedly went missing for five days after the alleged incident. Once located, she went to the hospital for treatment of injuries. Authorities have since taken her into protective custody. The nature of her disability is not known. The four girls alleged to have instigated the incident now face charges of aggravated battery. Three of them also face charges of mob action. A judge sent the younger two, ages 13 and 14, to a temporary shelter in lieu of juvenile detention.
Despite the legal principle that a person accused of committing a crime is innocent until proven guilty, one of the girls' mother reports that her daughter and the entire family have received threats in connection with the alleged incident. This illustrates that serious criminal charges have repercussions not only for individuals but for their families as well. With the stakes being so high, it may be a good idea for people facing battery charges to consult an attorney.