Attorneys for the District have told a D.C. Superior Court judge that the mother of an 11-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted in a courthouse cell last year was given a choice about whether her son would be placed in the cell.
The assertion by lawyers in the D.C. corporation counsel's office is contained in court papers filed by the city this week in an attempt to gain release of a confidential report prepared for the mayor on the city's handling of the boy.
Judge Gladys Kessler, head of the court's family division, has scheduled a hearing for Monday to determine whether the report -- considered confidential under the city's juvenile code -- should be made public.
The 11-year-old was arrested on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon after he struck a friend with a baseball bat while playing last May. Police transported him to the courthouse, where he was assaulted by two older youths and forced to commit sodomy.
The boy was found subsequently to have contracted syphilis. His mother later died of a bleeding pancreas.
In the court documents, city lawyers cite the mother's alleged involvement in the decision of whether to take the boy to court as one of several compelling reasons why the public should know the details of the case.
The lawyers did not detail specifically what decision the mother was asked to make, but told Kessler "that an alternative to processing through the courthouse cell block was presented to the boy's mother."
They also maintain in the documents that the injury leading to the assault charge "did not involve a mere 'accident,' " as the boy and his family have contended and that city prosecutors never hesitated in pressing the charge against the boy in court.
According to police records, the assault complaint was filed by the mother of the injured boy, who suffered a cut on the head when the 11-year-old struck him with a baseball bat.
Police later called the mother of the 11-year-old, saying a custody order for her son was being prepared. The mother took the boy to 4th District police, who arrested him and turned him over to deputy U.S. marshals at the courthouse.
The family's attorney, Daniel Arshack, disputed the city's contention that the mother was given any alternative about whether the boy would be taken to court and placed in a cell.
"I think it's the worst kind of self-serving double-talk for the District of Columbia at this late date to start filling in lapses of judgment by leaving an 11-year-old boy with a legacy that his deceased mother was the one who was responsible for his injury," Arshack said.