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HERCULES (CBS SF) — The case against a transgender teenager charged with misdemeanor battery after fighting back against alleged bullies in a Contra Costa County school might not go away.
Dan Cabral, Contra Costa County’s Senior Deputy District Attorney said he was not at liberty to talk about the case, but said he draws the line when a bullying victim takes the law into their own hands.
“Words are never enough to justify fists, that’s the law,” said Cabral.
The fight happened November 14th at Hercules Middle/High school, sparked by alleged taunting and bullying by classmates.
Jewlyes Gutierrez and other teens seen in the fight – videotaped on the school’s campus – were suspended and bullying policies in West Contra Costa Unified School District were called into question afterward in community meetings.
Now Gutierrez is the only one among the teens involved being charged with a crime. “It sucks,” said Gutierrez. “I really want … like, the charges against me to be dropped.”
School board president Charles Ramsey wasn’t sure why the district attorney was pressing charges against Gutierrez.
“If a crime happens, a crime happens but, I’d like to have a better understanding of the rationale and motivation behind it and sort of learn why this is not a punishment enough, especially when the child expresses a position that they had been bullied,” said Ramsey.
A police report was taken after the fight, but public defender Kaylie Simon was equally confused by the charges.
“I don’t understand quite why the district attorney’s office would prosecute someone who’s already been a victim of bullying. I think it’s a further victimization of someone who’s been a target,” said Simon.
Ilona Turner of the Transgender Law Center agrees. She thinks the DA should dismiss the charges.
“District attorneys have discretion to bring charges or drop charges,” said Turner. “This is unfortunately something we see all too commonly – transgender people, especially transgender women and girls of color pushed into the criminal justice system simply for trying to survive.”
Cabral insists the prosecution has nothing to do with the teen being transgender.
“For us to pick and choose who do we charge under these circumstances… would be a violation of the 14th Amendment,” said Cabral.
Gutierrez is due in court February 5th for a pre-trial conference where her public defender hopes her charges will be dropped.