About this story:
A 13-year-old boy has been charged with raping a 10-year-old girl in February and March 2017.
While awaiting trial, the boy was ordered to be on house arrest, required to attend alternative school, and forced to wear an ankle monitor.
A recent court hearing revealed:
- The boy has been found incompetent to stand trial.
- He attended school 25% of the time.
- He was grazed by a bullet outside of a market in December.
- He will be moved to a residential behavioral facility.
Robert Pagano's phone wouldn't stop buzzing. Pagano, a probation officer with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, is tasked with tracking the ankle monitor on a 13-year-old Boynton Beach boy charged with sexual battery.
“I get readings in the middle of the night, during the morning, in the afternoon, evening,” Pagano testified to alerts he’s received notifying him the boy violated the terms of his house arrest.
The boy, along with an 11-year-old boy, is accused of sexually assaulting and threatening a 10-year-old girl in 2017. The boys were arrested by police in June and have since been released on house arrest with ankle monitors as the case moves through the court system.
“I hate to use the term hundreds,” Pagano said in court. “But I’d have to say hundreds of times he’s violated the monitor.”
The older boy charged has faced extra court attention for these violations.
The 10-year-old girl carried her secret with her for months until she passed a note to a teacher at school last May. "I said no, but they said if I didn't let them they would beat me up."
She told Boynton Beach Police the boys raped her in an abandoned house, steps away from her own. Even after the boys were arrested, the girl was still afraid.
Contact 5 investigators found the victim's family called police three times accusing the older boy and his siblings of violating a protective order and slashing their car tires.
In the months since their detention, the boys have been evaluated by mental health experts for their capacity to understand a trial.
Late last year, the 13-year-old boy was found incompetent to stand trial. A psychologist said he was “developmentally immature.” The court put the boy into an outpatient community-based program, that would give him a mixture of school and home support to guide him through this time.
However, school officials and Pagano said in court that the child as not been following those rules.
“How often does [the boy] come to your class?” Assistant State Attorney Eric Baum asked Allen James, the boy’s social studies and reading teacher at South Intensive Transition School.
“I’d say about 25 percent of the time,” James said.
“What grades does he have in school?” Baum asked.
“All F’s right now,” James replied.
The hearing focused on an incident when the boy was grazed by a bullet outside a market in December. The boy said he went with his sisters and a cousin to the market during a party for his aunt.
“People were fighting in front of the store and I told my sisters I wanted to watch,” the boy said in court. “When I was watching them fight I heard gunshots and I tried to hide but they hit me in my back.”
The next day, a school counselor testified, the boy asked for a Band-Aid at school and staff were shocked to find out why.
“We took the proper procedures to let him talk to the nurse and also our school police to understand the situation,” the counselor said. She added that the nurse contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families about the incident.
“Whatever, he was only just hit a little in the back,” the boy's mother said when questioned about the gunshot. “It wasn’t no major wound. He didn’t bleed, he was fine.”
The court didn’t view it that way, however.
“Quite frankly, inappropriate," said Judge James Martz. “The child should not be at a party while he’s on home detention.”
Martz noted that the electronic monitor is the most restrictive means of non-secure placement that a child can be on under rules of the Department of Juvenile Justice in Florida.
“It is precisely the type of environment the court would seek the child from engaging in,” Judge Martz said.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Stephen McGraw met with the boy again in February after state prosecutors wanted another evaluation of him.
McGraw said he now believes the boy to have conduct disorder, which can be seen through aggression, deceitfulness, or violating rules.
“His lack of responsiveness to supervision and structure where he is in, has agreed to, things he doesn’t do, the time at which he’s out at night without supervision places him in a severely dangerous situation for himself and potentially the community,” McGraw said.
McGraw recommended him to be placed in a secure, residential facility. Judge Martz agreed.
The court ruled for the boy to be placed in a treatment center to address his behavioral needs. McGraw speculated he could be there for anywhere from 90 days to six months.
The boy's defense lawyer argued that her client is the victim, and shouldn't be incarcerated.
“It was very very unfortunate that he was in the line of other people’s line of fire. In any other situation, he would be the victim of this. Not somebody that you would incarcerate in a residential facility in order to protect him,” the defense attorney said.
"If he were an adult, he could spend the rest of his life in prison on each of those counts," Assistant State Attorney Eric Baum said.
The second boy involved in the case was ruled competent to stand trial but attorneys have asked the court to reconsider that ruling.
Meanwhile, the victim’s mother said the boy’s family has threatened her and vandalized her property.