GOLD HILL, Ore. - A 15-year-old boy who pinched and twisted the nipples of a 13-year-old has been sentenced to three days of community service for harassment.
David Thumler, 15, said the "titty-twister" was just horseplay. The mother of 13-year-old Matthew Cox counters that the incident was humiliating for her son, who saw it as an assault from an older, bigger bully.
"They're not friends," she said. "If he was my son's friend, it would be a different thing," said Bobby Cox.
In addition to the community service, Thumler has been ordered to pay a $67 fine and the misdemeanor has been placed on his permanent record. He can request to have it removed when he turns 18.
Ken Chapman, a Jackson County juvenile probation supervisor, said Oregon law defines physical harassment as "offensive physical touching."
That includes such adolescent antics as "wet-willies," "wedgies," "swirlies," "noogies" and all other forms of "Three Stooges" behavior, Chapman said.
According to David, the two boys were in line at a local deli when Matthew jokingly made an embarrassing remark to the female clerk about David. In retaliation, David counterattacked with the "titty-twister," the 15-year-old said.
"It's a thing of camaraderie," David said. "If he's going to assume our friendship is on that level, then so am I."
A lawyer hired by the 15-year-old's family called the juvenile court's actions "Orwellian."
"They call this 'baby assault,'" said Michael Kellington, a criminal defense attorney in Medford, hired by the family.
Even Bobby Cox said she was surprised to hear that her husbands' call to Gold Hill police resulted in court time for the boy. "Nobody informed me it would be a full-blown trial," she said.
According to Kellington, the incident was blown out of proportion in part because David's mother refused to let him show up for an initial hearing in juvenile court. Christine Alford, David's mother, said she did not let her son attend the hearing because she had seen photos of teenagers in handcuffs on the county's Web site.
Kellington said that Alford's refusal to let David go upped the ante and brought down "unfair, Draconian measures" upon her son. What should have been a discussion between first-time-offender and a representative of the juvenile justice system became a court trial.
"The mom is understandably fearful," said Kellington. "You shouldn't retaliate for the decision of a parent upon the child."
Chapman, the juvenile probation supervisor, said the mother should have known better.
"'Hearing' doesn't mean 'taking into custody,'" he said. "When we take someone into custody, we don't make appointments. If there's a consequence for not coming in informally, well, that's one they chose."