08/11/2006

Guards, father acquitted for trying to scare boy on a visit to a Pa. juvenile prison

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH- A father and four guards at a juvenile detention center were acquitted Thursday of breaking the law by taking the man's teenage son on a frightening visit to the lockup in hopes of scaring him straight.

"I don't think what you did rises to criminal conduct," Judge David Cashman said in acquitting the five men on charges that included conspiracy, child endangerment and unlawful restraint. "Stupid, maybe. Immature. But not criminal."

Anthony Donald, 39, of Penn Hills, was charged for taking his son Anthony Jr., then 13, to Shuman Juvenile Detention Center in 2005 after the boy got in trouble at school. The father knew several guards at the Pittsburgh center.

In a one-hour visit, the boy was beaten and yelled at, then forced to partially strip and clean a sink with a toothbrush, authorities said.

After the teenager told his mother what happened, she took him to the hospital for treatment of bruises and authorities were notified.

Five guards were fired. The guards acknowledged trying to frighten the boy but denied he was beaten.

The father's attorney, John Elash, said the boy, Anthony Donald Jr., an eighth-grader who stood 6-foot-1 and weighed 260 pounds, had threatened teachers and "had everybody scared to death at school."

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