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Former Tara High School student sentenced in rape case

We have previously written about a former Tara High School special needs student accused of raping another special needs student in the school auditorium. The 18-year-old, who was accused back in February, had been on probation for a 2010 rape and was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet at the time of the incident. He had received a juvenile life sentence for that prior rape, which was later suspended in favor of supervised probation.

On Tuesday, the boy-who had pleaded not guilty in April to forcible rape-accepted a plea agreement under which he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of sexual battery and simple kidnapping. Forcible rape carries a potential prison term of five to 40 years in prison. Sexual batter, though, may result in up to 10 years in prison, while simple kidnapping may result in as much as five years in prison.

Under the plea agreement, he was sentenced to nine years in prison at hard labor on the sexual battery charge and another five years in prison on hard labor on the simple kidnapping charge. If all goes well, the boy will reportedly be spending the nine years in prison, followed by five years of supervised probation, during which time he will be receiving sexual offender treatment. He will also have to comply with all sexual offender registration requirements and have no contact with the victim or her family.

The fact that the boy had special needs factored into the decision, but it is still sad that a young person with special needs is facing such serious consequences for his behavior. It is critical, when dealing with trouble youth, to do everything possible to advocate for them before they go too far down a bad path.

Source: The Advocate, "Teen pleads to sexual assault," Joe Gyan Jr., January 10, 2012

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