Hate crime charges have been dropped against a teenager who set a gender non-confirming student on fire, as part of a plea deal.
17-year-old Richard Thomas, of Oakland, California, set light to fellow student Sasha Fleischman – who does not identify as male or female – in an incident on a school bus last year.
Sasha Fleischman was hospitalised for three weeks following the attack – but made a recovery from most of the injuries.
Thomas this week pleaded no contest to charges of felony assault and inflicting great bodily injury – but as part of a plea deal, hate crime and aggravated mayhem charges against him were dropped.
He was controversially tried as an adult in the case, and is expected to be sentenced to up to 7 years behind bars as part of the deal, when he is convicted next month.
Fleischman’s mother Debbie Crandall – who has spoken out against Thomas being tried as an adult – said in a statement: “On the one hand, we are relieved that Sasha will not need to relive the events of past November in court. They are well on the road to recover and have moved to to the next chapter of their life.
“At the same time, our hearts go out to Richard and his family. Because of what seems to have been a childish, impulsive, tragic lack of judgement on the part of Richard, his and his family’s lives have been altered even more severely than ours.
“We have stated before, and continue to believe, that a 16-year-old’s actions, however severe the results, have no place in an adult judicial system.”