This teen girl told the judge that she assaulted a boy, held him at knifepoint, and forced him to have sex with a dog. Oh, and she recorded it all on video. After hearing all of this, the judge made a surprising decision.
Lauren Bush, a 17-year-old girl who attended Chopticon High School in Southern Maryland, admitted to the heinous crimes that she committed, pleading guilty to the distribution of an obscene video and second-degree assault after the Maryland teenager tormented an autistic boy, recording the abuse on camera. But, it wasn’t like she could deny it since she captured the crime on her own cell phone.
With the help of a 15-year-old friend, Lauren Bush, who the victim’s father says is a “danger to herself and to the community” and was only a high school junior at the time of her crime, did the unimaginable to the autistic boy, who has only been identified by his middle name of Michael. The three were considered friends and went to school together.
Together, the teens beat up Michael and forced him into a partially frozen pond, refusing to help him when he fell in the water, and they tried to run him over with a car, according to the police. But, that’s far from the end of the nightmare that Michael faced at the hands of Lauren Bush and her 15-year-old accomplice.
Recording the crimes on their cell phones, the girls asked the 16-year-old boy to get the family dog and have sex with it, as shown in one of their videos. Michael’s parents reportedly forced themselves to watch all of the videos during the trial. The disturbing footage showed Bush kicking Michael and pulling his hair, then holding a butcher knife up to Michael’s throat.
“It was really disturbing they would do that – and film it,” Michael’s father said, adding that one particular clip showed his son “being assaulted in my own house with one of my kitchen knives.” The distraught dad continued, “I don’t know where this would have ended if the girls hadn’t been arrested.” So, it comes as no surprise that the boy’s family is outraged by the judge’s decision.
Although the case began in adult court, where Lauren Bush faced up to 80 years in prison, St. Mary’s County Circuit Judge David Densford moved it down to juvenile court. After pleading guilty, Bush received what many consider a paltry sentence for her crimes. She was sentenced to up to just four years in a juvenile facility, meaning she will be released before she even turns 21. Meanwhile, her 15-year-old accomplice was sentenced to up to six years in a juvenile facility.
“The conduct on the DVDs and her statements to the police are outrageous. There is a lack of empathy … a dramatic lack of empathy,” Judge Densford said. “You look at them and say, ‘Why would any human being treat another person like this?’” However, Judge Densford also “acknowledged evidence that Bush suffered trauma as a child and multiple concussions as a Chopticon cheerleader. And he concluded that it didn’t make sense to send her to an adult prison,” The Washingon Post reported.
“This outrageousness, this ugliness does not make it the sort of criminal activity that should subject Lauren Bush to the Jessup women’s prison,” Judge Densford said, explaining his decision to prosecute Bush as a juvenile — a decision that not only outraged the victim’s parents but “marked a defeat for county law enforcement authorities, who wanted Bush to be punished as severely as possible in the high-profile case,” the Post adds.
Lauren Bush’s attorney, Brian Thompson, disagrees. “She should have been treated as a juvenile from Day One — she’s been publicly and permanently named and turned into a pariah as a result of this, and that never goes away,” Thompson said. “I think the judge made a brave decision in light of the public outcry. But from a strictly legal perspective, it was a straightforward case.”
While many can debate whether the sentence was punishment enough for the crimes she committed after betraying the trust of the autistic boy, who was high functioning and had once considered his abusers his friends, one thing is for certain — there are no winners here. Regardless of the court rulings, no one won. Instead, everyone lost. Three teens irrevocably lost any innocence they once had, forever having their lives changed because of Lauren’s heinous actions. That can’t be undone — not in four years in juvie, not in 80 years in a women’s penitentiary.