PALM BAY, Fla.,None - Three
suspects are charged with a hate crime after police in Palm Bay said they bullied an autistic teen and recorded it on camera.
In the video, the
suspects taunted, used racial slurs, and chased the victim, 15-year-old Jacob Appel, for more than six minutes at a school bus stop.
When a school counselor saw the video that was posted on Facebook, she went to police.
- Watch Raw Video (Explicit): Teens accused of bullying austistic teen
Now, Joelson Abel, Tyjuan English and Deon Glipsy are facing charges of aggravated stalking and hate crimes after English allegedly recorded the bus stop altercation and then a tussle on the bus.
Appel has Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism.
The video captures him running into traffic more than once to get away from the other teens. Appel came close to getting hit by a motorcycle and a second car after he ran out into this street and then through an intersection.
"He could have gotten hit by a car and lost his
life, and these boys they don't understand this," said Appel's mother, Teresa Appel.
Jacob Appel said he's been bullied for weeks but it was the cellphone video which finally got authorities involved.
The teenagers can also be heard referring to Appel as a "cracker," which police said made this a hate crime.
Police said Appel was struck by one of the students on the bus. His mother said he wasn't physically harmed, but because of his mental state, he needed examined at a health facility.
"Are you going to go back to school?" WFTV's Kevin Oliver asked.
"Yea," replied Appel.
"What's it going to be like?" Oliver asked.
"I don't know," said Appel. "Tell them the truth, you're scared."
Two of the teens were sent to the juvenile detention center.
English, who allegedly recorded the video, was placed on home detention and ordered to stay away from computers and cameras.
Appel's mother said she didn't want to see the video, but was glad there was now proof of the bullying.
"I can't see my child going through something like that without retaliation," said Teresa Appel.
All three suspects were already attending an alternative school and now face expulsion from the district, but that may be the least of their problems.
Florida law defines a hate crime as an intentional act against a person or their property based on personal characteristics, including race, religion, sexual orientation, age and mental or physical disability.
According to the FBI, in 2010 there were 65 cases of crimes in Florida based on someone's race. There were 29 attacks based on religion, along with 29 attacks based on sexual orientation. Thirteen people were attacked because of their ethnicity. There were no crimes reported based on someone's disability.