Can I be charged as an adult if I am only 17 years old?

Four 17 year old teenagers were charged as adults after they took part in sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and videotaping the assault. The teenagers then posted the video to their Facebook pages, solidifying their roles in the incident. One of the teenagers, Scandale Fritz, has pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 26 years in jail as a result.

Scandale Fritz, 17. Justin Applewhite, 17, Kenneth Brown, 16, and Dyquier Garret, 17, were all charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault in December 2012. Even though all four of the young men were considered juveniles, they were charged as adults after turning a 12-year old girl into a victim.

Scandale Fritz knew the older brother of the 12-year-old victim; this relationship led the young girl to walk to Fritz's home on December 15, 2012. When she arrived at the home Fritz immediately led her down into the basement. Her pants were removed immediately and Fritz began to sexually assault her; the young girl resisted and repeatedly demanded for him to stop.

Applewhite and Brown were both present during the first assault of the young girl. After the first assault committed by Fritz was over, Brown then allegedly sexually assaulted the girl. Applewhite was next. Shortly after the second assault, Applewhite forced her to perform a sex act on him, while Fritz videotaped the assault. The assaults continued once Dyquier Garret returned home.

The young girl filed a police report and went to the hospital the next morning. Two days later, the video of the attack was posted on Brown's Facebook page. It was later posted on Fritz and Applewhite's Facebook pages as well. The video displayed the three men during the sexual assault; Brown was shown waving a gun in the air while all three yelled gang slogans. Fritz had been the one videotaping the assault and was only identified when he turned the camera towards his face at one point in the video. He later provided a handwritten statement that he was involved.

All four of the teenagers were charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault. Fritz pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault on Thursday. He was sentenced to thirteen years on each count to be served consecutively, for a total of 26 years. The remaining teenagers' cases are pending.

Source:

Chicago Tribune, Teen gets 26 years in videotaped sexual assault of girl, 12, Carlos Sadovi, 2/14/14

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