JANESVILLE — The girl who was pepper-sprayed outside the Donald Trump rally Tuesday now faces the judgment of juvenile authorities for the punch she delivered.
Meanwhile, police continue to look for the man who pepper-sprayed her and asked news media to continue showing a photo of him.
The 15-year-old Janesville girl was referred to juvenile authorities on a charge of disorderly conduct, police said at a news conference Thursday, two days after the incident at Janesville’s Holiday Inn Express that gained national attention.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking inside the hotel’s convention center–or was about to speak–when the incident occurred outside, Police Chief David Moore said.
Police could have pursued a more serious assault charge against the girl, but the victim–the white-haired man shown in many videos circulating on the Internet–declined to press charges, Moore said.
“He didn’t have any animosity toward the young lady who swung at him,” the white-haired man’s attorney, Chris Van Wagner, told The Gazette. “He felt she (should) learn from the scrutiny she’s received that it’s not the best way to handle things.”
The white-haired man, 59, of Monroe will not face charges, Moore said, because none of the photos and videos police examined showed him touching the girl inappropriately.
The girl, as of Wednesday, still believed she was touched in the breast area, Moore said, but there’s no proof of that, and the white-haired man denies doing it.
“It’s unfortunate she believes that, but it didn’t happen,” Van Wagner said. “He absolutely didn’t do anything inappropriate toward the girl.”
At the most, the papers the white-haired man held could have brushed the girl, but he isn’t sure even that happened, Van Wagner said.
The video shows the man facing the girl, who is speaking vehemently.
He appears to take a step back and puts his hands up, Moore noted.
Detectives reviewed numerous videos, and none show a sexual assault, Moore said.
“He committed no crime,” Moore said.
The girl is seen on the video shouting at the white-haired man and ultimately punches him in the face, Moore said.
The man called the punch a “glancing blow” that hurt and was sore the next day but not an attack worth pursuing charges over, Van Wagner said.
The man in the red cap sprayed the girl point-blank in the face immediately after the punch.
“Right after that, he gets a smug look on his face, and he just kind of drifts into the crowd,” Moore said of the man in the red cap.
Police Lt. Keith Lawver said police would likely consider an arrest of the red-capped man on charges of battery and illegal use of pepper spray.
The white-haired man believes the pepper spray was over the top. He doesn’t know the man in the red cap, Van Wagner said.
“He felt that that was disproportionate to what the girl did. He didn’t feel like that was necessary,” Van Wagner said.
Video shows the confrontation taking place after an intense argument among some in the crowd, with some chanting “All Lives Matter” and a sign being held up with the slogan “Black Lives Matter.”
One video shows police entering the area moments afterward, but the man in the red cap slips away quickly, Moore said.
Officers were focused on keeping the peace among the pro- and anti-Trump people outside the hotel. They made sure the girl got medical help but did not go after the man in the red hat, with the thought they could follow up later, Moore said.
Officers would have arrested the sprayer immediately had they seen who did it, but they didn’t, Moore said.
Moore said the incident was emotionally charged, with many people close to each other, and people likely were brushing up against one another throughout the crowd.
“She believes she was assaulted. She believes there was pressure against her breasts,” Moore said.
Moore said it’s unlikely the girl will face any time in juvenile detention.
She was supposed to be in school Tuesday, and juvenile authorities will address that issue with the family, Moore said.
Moore stressed that the incident represents the only act of violence at the hours-long event, which drew about 2,000 people.
(c)2016 The Janesville Gazette (Janesville, Wis.)
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