The day after he expelled two Lakeside Middle students, Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan spoke to Evans Middle School pupils about the possible criminal consequences of their actions.
“I put people in jail every week,” Flanagan told eighth-graders in the school gym Thursday. “I’m not mean, but I have to do my job.”
Though the five Lakeside Middle pupils calling themselves the Charlie Rape Gang thus far have avoided a trip to the Regional Youth Detention Center for their assaults on classmates, including knocking some down and simulating sex acts, many others are not so lucky.
“A lot of people think when you go to YDC you don’t have to go to school, but you do,” Flanagan said. “And the cafeteria food is even worse than in school.”
On Wednesday, Flanagan expelled two 13-year-old members of the “rape gang” and sent the remaining three, one 13-year-old and two 12-year-olds, back to the school. However, all the boys still must face a school system hearing officer, who has the authority to expel them.
Each boy is charged with simple battery.
Flanagan explained to the Evans Middle pupils that simple battery constitutes unwanted touching, like shoving. Had the boys touched their classmates “private parts,” then they likely would have faced sexual battery charges.
“‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I didn’t mean to do it’ is fine in elementary school,” but not in middle and high schools, Flanagan said.
Thursday’s speech is one of many Flanagan regularly delivers to middle school pupils in the area. He hopes to give more such talks in coming months to convince pupils to avoid actions that might land them in his courtroom.
“Your only job here is to get good grades and keep out of trouble,” he said.