Youths Jailed On Numerous Felony Charges

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OAKLAND - Three Berkeley boys, ages 13 and 14, were charged with sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl with learning disabilities and will remain in custody, a juvenile court ruled yesterday.

Mark Kliszewski, Oakland Superior Court Commissioner, ruled that the minors would not be released during the thirteen days - including Thanksgiving - before their pretrial. Two of the boys, wearing prison clothing, left the court crying.

"In the light of the very serious crimes and in the light of the danger to the community, I will not be letting him go home today," Kliszewski said to one boy's mother.

The boys were three of seven Willard Middle School boys alleged to have assaulted the girl. One of the alleged attacks took place on October 24th on the Stuart Street campus. The rest were alleged to have taken place at several different locations, during different times the following day.

The majority of charges involved multiple attempts of oral copulation, some forced and some not, said Alameda County Asssistant District Attorney Walter Jackson. Charges of witness persuasion were also brought against the boys because they pressured the girl not to tell anyone about the incident.

"I do not intend to file any rape charges or any kidnapping charges", he said. "I read through a whole bunch of witness reports. There is no sufficient evidence and there is no medical confirmation of any rape."

The two 13-year-olds are charged with 13 and 14 counts, mostly felonies each with up to 6 to 8 years of incarceration. The 14-year-old was charged with seven counts, Jackson said. The five other boys, whose crimes police said were less serious, will not be detained pending their trials. Their cases will be reviewed by Monday.

The detained boys were brought into custody in the Alameda County Juvenile Facility Tuesday.

The mother of one of the boys at the hearing said the boys were being put through too great an ordeal.

"They are as much victims as she is," she said.

The issue of juvenile crime remains controversial. Yesterday's trial was a civil, not a criminal trial as the defendants were too young to be criminally responsible, according to Bill Daley, a defense attorney from Miller Associates.

The court commissioner said that Proposition 21 made it an open hearing, but that the names of defendants cannot be disclosed.

An attorney for one of the boys began his case by saying that he did not agree with holding someone so young in custody.

Berkeley police Lt. Russell Lopes said several of the boys were part of a self-proclaimed middle school gang called the "Mini-mob," which has been involved in beating up other kids and stealing their bikes and money. The mothers, however, denied this. Police said they do not believe the incident was "gang-related."

One of the mothers, who were all tearful at the end of the trial, denied that any of the charges were true.

"She gave permission on all of it," she said. "And this is not just something that came from my son. (All of the boys) said that."

But a UC Berkeley professor of women studies, who specializes in childhood studies, said that often victims are blamed for the crime, especially if they are female. Police emphasized that the girl did not consent to any acts.

"Boys just go and have as much sex as they can just to show their virility," she said about unrelated past cases. "(But) you blame girls or women if they have sex. It's the old double standard."

One mother told the court her son was sorry for what he did.

"My son has been in counseling," she said afterwards. "He's been really working hard. His counselor said he's been doing really well - and then this happened."

Police are still looking for a 15 and 16-year-old in connection with the five hour incident, which took place in 11 different Berkeley locations.


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