Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Judge sentences pair for attack on black teen

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON - Two Butler County teens will serve time in juvenile detention for ethnic intimidation and aggravated menacing of an African-American teen.

Brenda Melson, a Fairfield Township resident, said her 15-year-old son was assaulted - punched, knocked down and hit with a rock - on Nov. 3 because of his race.

"My son looked like he was in the ring with Mike Tyson when he came home that night," Melson told Judge Ronald Craft in court.

"It took a whole seven days for that to heal. This is not some little petty thing, and I am still truly offended that it was handled in juvenile court."

The white youths were ages 15 and 16 at the time of the offense.

"This is horrible in 2003 that they told my son to get off the hill because he's black," Melson said.

She said her son came home with bruises, scrapes and two swollen eyes after visiting a long-time friend in an area called "the Knob," where Fairfield Township meets the city of Hamilton.

"I understand things go on with kids, but I'm charged with stopping this sort of conduct because we should all have zero tolerance of this sort of conduct and name-calling," Craft said just before sentencing the boys.

One received a minimum of six months in the Department of Youth Services with credit for 123 days served and the other was sentenced to 30 days in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center to be served consecutively with 30 days from an unrelated case.

A six-month sentence in the Department of Youth Services was suspended for the second defendant.

Both were required to pay restitution and court costs, and to have no contact with the victim.

Neither spoke in court.

Prosecutor Greg Stephens said ethnic intimidation cases are unusual in juvenile court, but officials take them seriously.

"It is rare, so when we do get them we definitely want to send a message," he said.

Melson, who attended court with her husband, Jerome, said she was pleased with the outcome. Her son didn't attend the sentencing.

"I want the message to be clear that they cannot do this and walk away," Melson said.

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