3 Teenagers Face Felony Charges In Bullying of Student With Special Needs in Texas

October 2, 2019 Updated: October 2, 2019

Texas police said three teenagers face state felony charges after taking a photo of a student with special needs while he was using the bathroom and posting it online.

The three teenagers, all 13 years old, face charges of invasive visual recording, an offense punishable by jail time in the state of Texas, WBAP reported. The allegations stem from an incident that happened on Sept. 27 at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving.

The victim is an 11-year-old student with special needs.

“He’s just in his own world,” said Monica Cowans, the victim’s mother, in a statement to WFAA. She added that her son is non-verbal and should not be left unsupervised.

Police cited by Fox4 said one of the suspects took a picture of the student while he was using the bathroom and texted it to the two other suspects. One of the boys then posted it on Instagram.

‘Serious Criminal Offense’

Officer Robert Reeves with the Irving Police Department was cited by WBAP as saying: “This is a state jail felony, a very serious charge … this may be something to where they may be put on a first offender program where they go to classes to learn about making better choices, or they can be held at a juvenile detention center, whatever the judge deems fit.”

Reeves said parents should talk to their children about bullying. “These conversations on what’s appropriate and inappropriate to do with that camera on a cellphone is very important to have because what kids may think is funny or a joke may actually be a really serious criminal offense.”

The victim’s mother told WFAA that she was contacted on Monday by the school principal, who told her how the eighth-graders used a phone to bully her son.

“Him standing up with his pants down to his ankles,” Cowans told the news outlet, describing how the image remained on Instagram over the weekend until someone reported it to the school.

“That’s how they contacted me,” Cowans said. “He was already on there naked.”

All three teenagers who allegedly perpetrated the abuse had their phones seized, according to Fox4.

“It was bullying,” Cowans told WFAA.

Irving ISD released a statement regarding the incident, as cited by CBS: “We are aware of the incident last week involving three students at Johnson Middle School sharing a photo of another student. While we cannot discuss any specifics regarding the situation due to privacy law, we are taking the situation very seriously. The students involved have received appropriate discipline as outlined by local laws and our Student Code of Conduct, and the Irving Police Department has filed charges on the students. At Johnson Middle School and in Irving ISD, we take all bullying allegations seriously, and we are committed to helping prevent bullying on our campus.”

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