Autistic teen beaten, robbed, and stripped of clothes at park

Autistic teen beaten, robbed, and stripped of clothes at park

COLUMBUS, GA (WALB) - By Dante Renzulli

It happened right in the middle of a back to school drive for books and supplies being hosted at the Fluellen Recreation Center. There were a lot of witnesses, and we're told some adults at the center even saw the boy walking around in his underwear afterward, but somehow, it never got reported to police.

He was so ashamed after suffering at the hands of a relentless mob that he didn't have the heart to tell his parents what happened. According to witnesses, a group of at least five young men wearing white T-shirts singled out a teen known to have a learning disability. He was the target of a cruel display of bullying in the middle of a basketball court.

Witnesses said the five young men are part of a gang that calls itself the City Celebrities and they attacked the 17-year-old at the 8th Street Park about two weeks ago. The victim's mother says her son was forced down on all fours and kicked until he bled from his mouth.  The suspects robbed him of his wallet, cell phone, and they took the clothes off his back. He had to walk home wearing only his boxer shorts.

"I couldn't believe that was my child who they were humiliating and abusing in that manner," said his mother, Valencia.  We are not using her full name to protect the teen's identity.

One of the gang members recorded the entire incident on his cell phone and proudly posted it to Facebook, but that final humiliation is what led to their undoing.

"I call this person an angel - who sent in the Facebook news feed to the Columbus Police Department," says Valencia.

With the victim too embarrassed and afraid to go to police himself, it took an anonymous Facebook user to bring it to the attention of authorities and it led to three arrests.  Jarvis Tatum and Saul Jackson are currently in jail and a third juvenile just had his first court appearance today. Police are looking for another teen whose street name is 'Junior.'

We're protecting the identity of the victim, who says he regrets not speaking up immediately.

"When somebody does something like that to you, you need to go tell somebody right away.  Not try to hide it or go home or act like you don't know anything about it.  Tell somebody as soon as it happens," Valencia says.

His mother also expressed concerns about the lack of supervision at the park, "Who's actually in charge? Why are adults there and nobody is monitoring what's going on?"

We tried to get the director of the recreation center on the phone for a comment but he wouldn't take our call.  We also tried to get the Facebook video from detectives, who are now the only ones in possession of it, but they were not working Thursday night.

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