Innocent Teen Speaks Out

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

August 17, 2006

A 13-year-old found not guilty of plotting attacks on local schools is giving his side of the story.

The teen and his father are pointing fingers at the police and the Commonwealth's attorney for arresting and prosecuting an innocent child. They want to know how this could happen.

He was the fourth teen arrested on charges of plotting attacks on Albemarle County high schools. Police hand cuffed him and walked him out of his middle school in February.

“I saw one of my friends in the hallway as I was walking out,” said the teen.

“There was a lot of damage done to his reputation for them arresting him at school,” said the teen’s father.

This 13-year-old spent two months in detention, until a juvenile judge found him guilty of conspiracy. He was sent home, put under house arrest waiting for his appeal. Yesterday a jury reversed his conviction; they found him innocent.

“Everybody in it except for the oldest kid--who I never knew, and never will know, hopefully--as far as I know they were as innocent as I was,” said the 8th grader.

The teen’s father blames police.

"I think it was shoddy police work. I think there was [more focus on making the arrest] than to find out the truth," his dad explained.

We obtained the video of police questioning the teen without an attorney, without his parents.

During the interrogation he tells police: “I know what you’re talking about. I thought that was a joke.”

“In this case they ask you to come in voluntarily with the purpose of not having to [tell] you your rights,” said the father.

The teen's father also blames prosecutors.

“Mr. Camblos and the police department said this was going to happen and yet then they hid behind the fact that there were two under 14-year-old boys and so they couldn't talk about anything. I think that was rather deceptive,” said the father.

The family said there was never any evidence of a plot and they can't be happier that the jury saw the truth.

The family said that their child's reputation was damaged here when they took their son out of school in handcuffs. Now, they are thinking about taking action against the police department.

As far as the school is concerned, the teen is still suspended. There no word yet from the school system if or when they will let the teen back into school.

The commonwealth's attorney reacted tonight saying a juvenile court judge felt there was enough evidence in this case. Albemarle County police say their department acted professionally, fairly and diligently during this investigation.

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