Teen charged in sexual assaults near Omaha park plans to admit to attacks
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The teen accused of assaulting two women this summer near Memorial Park is planning to admit to the crimes.
Our partners at 6 On Your Side have been investigating the circumstances that led to the arrest of a 13-year-old accused in the attacks, and the next steps for the system to rehabilitate.
In juvenile court on Thursday, it was revealed that the boy — now 14 years old — plans to admit to the judge that he terrorized the women walking around the park in July, raping one of them and groping another.
His attorney wanted to plead “no contest,” but Judge Candice Novak said she would not accept that, essentially because juvenile court is about rehabilitation, not punishment.
Courthouse observers say it’s hard to rehabiliate if you won’t even admit to what you did.
The specifics of the charges are disturbing for anyone, let alone a suspect who was 13.
It was the middle of a July day around Memorial Park. Investigators said he threatened one of their lives because she had seen his face — and he only ran once he heard sirens.
But what is available to rehabilitate someone so young accused of something so awful?
The court was supposed to get some idea on what that entails on Thursday.
The teen’s risk assessments are complete with plans to move forward, possibly to a therapuetic group home in Nebraska or out-of-state that specializes in sexually offending youth.
But the court heard none of that Thursday because of some other problems.
The interpreter was supposed to be in court — in person — to translate the proceedings into Swahili for the teen’s mother, but instead two interpreters showed up on the videoconference.
When the judge tried to set the next court date, the mother said she didn’t care for one of the interpreters and preferred the other. She also told the judge she had several appointments in January conflicting with the next court appearance.
And then the mother told the judge regarding her son’s juvenile court appearances: “This is just getting in the way.”
After much chatter between the family in the courtroom, the teen’s mother, and the interpreters — where it was difficult to follow any of the it — Judge Novak told the mother that if it doesn’t work for the mom to be in court in early January, she doesn’t have to be.
If the mother doesn’t show, the teen — who came to court with a cast wrapped around his left hand and wrist — will still have a guardian ad litem in court; that’s an adult appointed by the court to protect the interests of the juvenile.
It wasn’t the first time there was confusion in the courtroom during this case. At an initial hearing, the family couldn’t tell the judge the suspect’s date of birth, which could have determined whether he was elligible to be charged as an adult.
Attorneys at the time also said the teen had exposed himself to staff while he was detained at the Douglas County Youth Center.
The teen remains in custody at the center, where he’s been for the last five months.