A 14 year-old African American student is set to stand trial for allegedly touching another student improperly during class.
Wired PR News – Jury selection began on Monday for a case in Lamar County involving a 14 year-old student who stands accused of indecency with a child. The Paris, Texas juvenile was arrested last October, after being accused of touching a female student’s private areas during summer school classes at Travis Junior High School.
The juvenile’s mother, Dorothy Lawrence, expressed doubts that her son will receive a fair trial in the controversial town of Paris, which has made national headlines for protests of their criminal justice system. According to Lawrence, the classroom contained at least 30 students and the school police officer, Pedro Barrios, only took statements from three. She stated following Monday’s proceedings “since my son supposedly jumped up out of his seat and ran across the room to touch the girl, statements should have been taken from all the students.” The young boy’s mother says her biggest concern about the case is the fact the D.A. plans to ask the judge to order her son to register as a sex offender, which will follow him throughout his life.
Local civil rights activists in the town state they are concerned about the increasing number of African American youth being introduced to the criminal justice system by the educational system. Keith Mitchell, founder of the Find a Way Foundation, which helps incarcerated individuals who’ve been subject to excessive sentencing, and other injustices of the legal system, stated of the matter, “The school principals, rather than handling situations within the school, choose to call the police and make everything a criminal matter. Behavior that, in my school years would land you in detention or a paddling, now land you in prison.”
The trial is scheduled for April 14 in Judge Chuck Superville’s court. Superville made national news in 2007 after controversy surrounded his sentencing a 14-year-old black female student to up to 7 years in TYC for shoving a hall monitor, and giving a 14-year-old white female student probation for arson.