By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2014 10:10 AM ET
After completing a restorative justice program, battery charges were dropped against 16-year-old Jewlyes Gutierrez, reports the Transgender Law Center.
Gutierrez, a transgender student from Hercules, Calif., made national news after video surfaced of her and three female classmates involved a physical altercation last November. Although all four students participated in the fight, Gutierrez was the only one charged with a crime, finding herself facing misdemeanor battery charges. All of the students were briefly suspended from school, but none of the three other girls involved — all cisgender (nontrans) — were charged in connection to the altercation.
Gutierrez was allegedly the target of ongoing harassment from other students, which she claims she had reported to school officials without seeing results, which allowed the situation to eventually escalate to the now-infamous schoolyard fight, captured on a bystander's cellphone video.
Judge Thomas M. Maddock of the Juvenile Division of Contra Costa County Superior Court offered Gutierrez the opportunity to enter a restorative justice program in February, with the expected result of the charges being dropped. Last week, Maddock reviewed Gutierrez's case, noted her completion of the prescribed program, and dropped all charges against Gutierrez.
Kaylie Simon, Gutierrez's public defender, said she believed her client was targeted for bullying on the basis of her transgender identity, telling KTVU, "Jewles identifies as transgender, and I think she had been tormented and harassed at the school because of how she identifies."
After charges against Gutierrez were announced, West Contra Costa School Board President Charles Ramsey expressed disappointment in the decision by the district attorney's office, arguing that the incident should have been used as a "teachable moment," and not something that warranted prosecution.
In March, Hercules High School briefly found itself back in the news when another trans student claimed he was assaulted, though he later recanted the story.