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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pennsylvania teen with autism found duct-taped to goal post, receives apology (complete coverage)

this has been an ongoing story, will try and post from the beginning (first) and continued updates..
Austin Babinsack

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Oct 8, 2014

The Highlands School District has suspended its soccer coach and two of the team’s players after a teenager with autism was found duct-taped to a goal post over the weekend.
Harrison police said the incident happened Sunday night at the school’s soccer fields. The police department is investigating.
Austin Babinsack, 16, told police that he was left duct-taped to the post for about 15 minutes, while several students went back to the school to get another student.
An off-duty Pennsylvania state trooper found him.
“He was terrified, he could have died, he could have had a heart attack from being so stressed out. He was screaming at the top of his lungs,” Austin’s mother, Kristy Babinsack, told KDKA-TV.
Ms. Babinsack said Austin has autism.
The school district said coach Jim Turner, who it said was not present during the incident, and two of the players, both 17, have been suspended for at least five days.
The district released the following statement about the incident: “Highlands School District does not take matters such as hazing and bullying lightly. The district issues strict disciplinary action on students who think these actions are appropriate and harmless.”
Ms. Babinsack said she’s satisfied by the district’s response so far but hopes the coach will be fired and the other players expelled.
Associated Press contributed.


Coach, players investigated after boy with autism found taped to goal post

Published on Oct 8, 2014
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (KDKA) – Police are investigating a high school coach and several players after they allegedly duct taped a boy to a goal post.

The alleged hazing took place Sunday night at Highlands High School’s soccer fields.

“I was really shaken. I thought I was gonna be stuck there for a long time,” said Austin Babinsack.

Austin, 16, says he was duct taped to the goal for approximately 15 minutes, while the group of kids went back to the school to get another student.

An off-duty trooper found him and helped free him.

“He was terrified. He could have died, he could have had a heart attack from being so stressed out. He was screaming at the top of his lungs,” said Kristy Babinsack, Austin’s mother.

Babinsack says Austin is autistic and believed the kids who taped him to the goal post were his friends.

“They duct taped my hands, my legs, all the way up to my waist. And then they attempted to try to take a picture of it,” said Austin.

The Highlands School District has suspended coach Jim Turner and two players for at least five days.

“I feel the coach knew. He wasn’t there, but he knew it was happening. He knows that it’s been going on. He’s the adult, these kids, let’s face it, they’re 17. We have to hold the adults accountable first before we can hold the kids accountable,” Babinsack said.

The district released the following statement on the incident:

“Highlands School District does not take matters such as hazing and bullying lightly. The district issues strict disciplinary action on students who think these actions are appropriate and harmless.

Lawyer: Student with autism still being bullied after duct-taping

The family of 16-year-old Austin Babinsack says the Highlands High School student was taped to a soccer goalpost and left there, and now people are posting comments online.
as reported by Amber Nicotra, for WTAE News in Pittsburgh | Oct 10, 2014

Oct 20, 2014
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Austin Babinsack was a victim of bullies when two teammates duct-taped the autistic Highlands High School soccer player to a goal post and abandoned him for 20 minutes earlier this month.
When those teammates were suspended from school and the team, Austin, 16, was again the target of bullies who took to the Internet to condemn him and support the boys who were suspended.
Now, school officials and his family are working to make sure the bullying ends on all fronts.
On Monday, Austin’s parents and attorney Phil DiLucente met with Highlands superintendent Michael Bjalobok and special education director Debra Lehew to discuss how to prevent future bullying and move the district past the incident.
The superintendent said the suspended teammates soon will return to classes. They initially were given five-day out-of-school suspensions, but the district later added in-school suspension days, the superintendent said. Austin has been back at school since several days after the Oct. 5 incident.
At the Monday meeting district officials made it clear they will not tolerate online bullying or harassment and will use the discipline code to punish those who post items to social media, even outside of school, that could be considered bullying or disruptive to the school day.
“There’s not going to be any further bullying permitted of Austin in school or any third-party bullying through social media,” Mr. DiLucente said.
Mr. Bjalobok said the district is simply reinforcing its existing policy to discipline students for social media posts that affect school life. “That is our policy, and we stand by it,” he said.
He said negative posts on social media targeted Austin and the school district.
Highlands has an enrollment of about 2,500 students and serves the communities of Brackenridge and Tarentum boroughs and Fawn and Harrison townships.
Harrison police, who are investigating the incident, have not said if they will file criminal charges and could not be reached for comment.
Mr. DiLucente said the Babinsack family is not pushing for criminal charges but prefer to have a meeting between Austin and the two teammates in which the boys would apologize to Austin “with contingencies of awareness education and community service.”

article By Madasyn Czebiniak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Nov 15, 2014
The two Highlands School District soccer players who duct-taped a teenager with autism to a goal post in October and left him there, apologized to him between classes on Friday afternoon.
Phil DiLucente, the lawyer representing Austin Babinsack, 16, and his family, said the two boys apologized to Austin and also wrote him letters, which he left at school.
Austin was very excited to receive the apologies and called his mother from school Friday to tell her the news, Mr. DiLucente said.
“[He] said ’I am very happy and am glad to put this behind me and things can get back to normal,’” Mr. DiLucente said.
The Babinsack family declined to comment through Mr. DiLucente on Friday.
The apologies came after Mr. DiLucente wrote a letter to the Harrison police chief Wednesday, saying if an apology was not received by the end of next week, then the family would press charges.
No charges have been filed, according to Harrison police. Instead the boys will participate in autism awareness classes; Austin’s family would also like to see an all-encompassing autism awareness program at the high school.
“That’s the last missing piece of the puzzle,” Mr. DiLucente said. “We’re a tad anxious and we’d like things to transpire in the very near future. Actions speak louder than words.”
The boys who duct-taped Austin, both 17, were suspended from school and also faced in-school suspension, and soccer coach Jim Turner, who is said not to have been present at the time of the incident, was also suspended.
An email to the acting superintendent of the school district, Michael Bjalobok, requesting comment Friday was not returned.

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