Butt-Slapping gets Boys in Trouble
Posted by shadmia on July 25, 2007
Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, two 13-year-old boys ran down the hallway of Patton Middle School after lunch, slapping as many girl’s butts as they could get their hands on along the way. A teacher’s aid caught them and sent them to the office. The vice principal, Steve Tillery, and a police officer, Marshall Roache, stationed at the school, questioned the boys and some of the girls involved in the incident. Apparently convinced that a crime had been committed, the officer read the boys their Miranda rights and hauled them off in handcuffs to juvenile jail, where they spent the next five days. Now, Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, face the prospect of 10 years in juvenile detention and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. Read the Original Charges here. The charges against both Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison were later amended and the felony charges against Cory were dropped.
Bradley Berry, the McMinnville district attorney, said his office “aggressively” pursues sex crimes that involve children. “These cases are devastating to children,” he said. “They are life-altering cases.”
“The disproportionality of the charges is absurd,” said Phillip Esplin, a forensic psychologist who has researched child sex abuse for the National Institutes of Health.
“My question is, why this would constitute a sexual offense, as opposed to something inappropriate that should have been dealt with within the school — not within the criminal justice system.”
To Rhonda Pope, mother of Christian Richter, 13, a girl named in the court papers as one of the victims, the charges are justified.
“Slapping somebody on the butt is sexual harassment, and it is a crime,” she said. “Considering what was going on and that my daughter was offended, it is a crime. And it’s not OK.”
Insisting that the charges are an overreaction, Mashburn’s attorney, Mark Lawrence, has worked to bring as much public attention as possible to the story. Lawrence, himself a former Yamhill County prosecutor, and his client briefly appeared on commentator Bill O’Reilly’s cable TV show.
“I look at this from a prosecutor’s perspective and a defense attorney’s perspective, and believe this is truly insane. I do not condone this behavior — it was inappropriate. But it is not criminal.”
Marshall Roache, the police officer, after conducting a follow up interview with many of the girls was told that it was “slap butt day” and many of them were involved in the same behavior including one girl who described it as “a handshake we do.” Two of the alleged victims said they had swatted boys’ buttocks themselves. No one claimed to be offended by the horseplay. At this point the two boys were still locked up.
The next day the juvenile court held a hearing on whether the boys should be released. The courtroom was packed with Patton students and families of both boys — many were crying. The boys were there, too, in shackles and jail outfits. Two of the alleged victims spontaneously offered to testify on behalf of the boys. Under oath, they told the judge they were friends and did not feel threatened by them. The two girls also testified they felt compelled, during the initial interviews with Tillery and Roache, to say things that weren’t true. Read a copy of the court transcript here.
“Well, when the (vice) principal asked me stuff, I kind of felt pressured to answer stuff that I was uncomfortable, and that it hurt, but it really didn’t,” the girl said, explaining that she didn’t think anything sexual went on.
The boys were released. But the judge ordered them out of school, required constant parental supervision and barred them from contacting friends. Any deviation, he said, would result in more time in juvenile jail. The boys and their parents were interviewed about the experience. Watch the Video Clip Here
The only “victims” in this entire incident were the two boys and their families. Because of their horseplay, two boys have been thrown in jail for days, enduring what must have been a nightmare for both of them. Now their parents are suffering under the expense of having to hire lawyers to defend their children. Both boys are under house arrest and are not able to return to school. They are facing some very serious charges that could land them in jail for a very long time. And in addition they may have to register as sex offenders and be included in that registry for the rest of their lives. All this over an incident in which no one claims to be a victim and no one is afraid of these two 13-year-olds, who were just having some fun with their friends during the lunch break at school. When will some sanity return to the “adults” who try to make young sexual predators out of boys just having fun??? Can someone tell them to BUTT out and let kids be kids!!!