Two teenagers were charged Monday with juvenile delinquency after they posted a video on a social media website that showed them attacking a woman on the Rail Trail, city police said.
The 14- and 15-year-old girls’ identities were not released because they were charged as minors, said police Chief Donald VanDeusen. Had they been 18 or older, they would have been charged as adults and could have faced an attempted assault charge, a misdemeanor, he said.
The teens were instead petitioned to Family Court for action. Potential penalties could range from probation to placement as a Person In Need of Supervision, officials said.
“We have taken a proactive approach and need to send a message that this type of activity will not be tolerated,” VanDeusen said.
He said the Police Department learned about the video Thursday after it was posted on the Facebook page of one of the teens. A Fulton County dispatcher saw the video and notified police, he said.
The video showed the girls chasing down an unidentified 47-year-old city woman on the Rail Trail in the city. In the video, the girls knock the woman to the ground and punch her, causing a bloody nose. Police said the woman refused to cooperate in their investigation and would not press charges. Her injuries were limited to a bloody nose. The video has since been removed from Facebook.
VanDeusen said police identified the girls and interviewed them at the Police Department on Friday afternoon. He said police filed charges based on the girls’ statements and the video evidence.
As to why the girls posted the video online, VanDeusen said they demonstrated typical teenage behavior. “They like to be on Facebook and brag,” he said.
Mayor Dayton King used his own Facebook page to tell his 4,500 contacts that “we are aware of the video and will take proper action. We do not tolerate this type of behavior in our city!”
His post received 83 comments and 105 “likes.” Some of the commentators identified the girls and said police would not take action against the girls. Others said the woman has been attacked before and that people go out looking for her, saying the woman had often “harassed kids.”
VanDeusen said police know the woman. “We see her around town quite a bit,” he said. He said the woman was “not looking for a fight that day, or normally looks for fights. She is the victim of the action of two juveniles.”
The girls posted their video shortly after King had proclaimed October as Bully Awareness Month. The mayor said he has been working closely with the Gloversville Middle School the last few years to raise awareness about bullying. In printed comments, King said the city and school district should work together to present a clear message of disapproval, which could help reduce the threat of bullying.
VanDeusen said he could classify the girls’ alleged attack on the woman as bullying. “We do take this matter seriously and we will investigate any future incidents involving this person or other people taking part in similar activities,” he said.