A troubled 16-year-old girl who took part in a "vicious" two-on-one attack that hospitalized a group home worker — whose car she then stole and crashed before assaulting a cop — has been sentenced to jail.
Crown attorney Kaley Tschetter said the beating happened shortly after a judge had given the girl a break. She’d been sentenced to probation for a previous assault, instead of custody, so she wouldn’t lose her placement in the home.
"She essentially spit in the face of the justice system by doing what she did," Tschetter told court.
But the girl’s lawyer, Philip Sieklicki, said that, while the beating was "horrible," it was a result of the teen’s troubled background.
"(The girl) herself has also been a victim in so many devastating ways," Sieklicki said.
The attack happened at one of several homes run in Brandon under the name Specialized Foster Homes and licensed through Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services.
The girl pleaded guilty on July 29 to assault with a weapon, car theft, assaulting a police officer, refusing to provide a breath sample and breach of probation by failing to abstain from consuming alcohol.
Tschetter and Sieklicki provided the following courtroom account of the May 5 beating and the events that led up to it.
Sieklicki said that prior to the assault, his client (who was on probation and banned from drinking at the time), another girl who lived at the same home and a third person shared two bottles of rum.
Tschetter said the two girls, who can’t be named, then returned to their group home drunk and with liquor that the group home worker, a 45-year-old woman, confiscated.
One girl then followed the worker into the living room and began to kick and punch her before the worker managed to pin her assailant in an attempt to end the assault.
The second girl (the one who pleaded guilty) walked into the room, pulled the worker off the first girl and both then continued to attack the worker.
One of the girls — again, the girl who pleaded guilty — went to the kitchen, got a chair and hit the worker in the head with it several times.
It was a third girl who lives at the home who came to the victim’s aid. She was in the basement when she heard the attack and the worker’s calls for help. She went upstairs to find the worker on the couch, trying to fend off her attacker’s punches and kicks.
"The only reason the assault stopped was that another girl intervened," Tschetter said.
That girl sent text messages to another worker for help, stood between the armed girl and the victim, took the chair away and told the assailants that police had been called.
The girl who’d wielded the chair grabbed the victim’s car keys and was in the parked car revving its engine when police arrived.
First, she reversed the car into the home. Then, she shifted into forward gear and drove across the yard into a tree with enough force to set off the car’s airbags.
The screaming and spitting girl fought with police when they got her out of the car. She was handcuffed but kicked one male officer in the groin before her feet were hobbled. She was taken to hospital where she refused a demand for a blood sample and said she just wanted to go to jail.
The victim was taken to hospital with aches and pains across her body, and bruises around her eyes which were swollen shut. Tschetter said the victim had bite marks, including "extremely bad" ones on her left wrist. The woman also had a bruised scalp, ear pain and loss of hearing in one ear.
The victim was X-rayed extensively but was free of breaks and fractures.
She was in hospital from May 5-9, Tschetter said.
Tschetter said the girl who was sentenced, and had armed herself with the chair, had five prior assault convictions. In March, despite the Crown attorney’s request for custody, Judge Don Slough sentenced the teen to two years probation instead for an assault so she wouldn’t lose her place in the group home where the attack on the worker later took place.
Tschetter said justice authorities noted the teen’s low IQ and troubled background led her to use violence to deal with conflict, and she’s assessed as a high risk to reoffend.
Sieklicki said the girl had walked into the room at the point when the worker had the other girl pinned. Drunk, she believed the worker was trying to hurt her friend and acted to protect her.
Her attack on the worker was the result of an instinct to fight formed from memories of family members being beaten up by boyfriends and a childhood memory of her aunt being attacked by a gang member, Sieklicki said.
That’s just part of the troubled past for the girl, who was recently made a permanent ward of DOCFS.
Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, she was a victim of sexual abuse three times. She recently lost a friend to suicide and may have been groomed by family members for prostitution.
Authorities have identified her mother, who was recently in prison, as involved in child exploitation and human trafficking in some way. Her father was also recently in custody.
A CFS supervisor, who spoke on the girl’s behalf in court and asked the sentence not to be too harsh, said the girl’s outlook has improved since being placed in Specialized Foster Homes.
Describing the beating as "vicious," Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta sentenced the girl to 10 months in jail, to be followed by five months supervision in the community and then one year of probation. That’s on top of 85 days she spent in custody before dealing with her charges.
A co-accused still faces charges.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 9, 2014