A McHenry County judge on Tuesday dropped a hate crime charge against a middle school boy who attacked a fellow student in February.
As part of a plea deal, the boy admitted guilt to the remaining charge, aggravated battery, and apologized to the victim and his family in juvenile court.
The boy who was injured, Omid Babakhani, said he had just walked out of the lunchroom at Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake when the boy called him a “Persian,” made a derogatory remark about his mother then attacked him.
The boy put Omid, who was 13 at the time, in a headlock, threw him to the ground and repeatedly punched him, prosecutors said in court. Because the boy is a juvenile, his name has not been released by authorities.
Both of Omid's collarbones were broken, and a surgeon implanted two titanium plates days after the attack.
When the judge asked the boy who was accused for his plea, the boy’s voice barely rose above a whisper as he said with his parents.
He stood up and turned to Omid and his family when he apologized, saying “I'm sorry about what happened to you. I didn't mean to hurt you.”
He also addressed Omid's mother, Melissa, saying, “I'm sorry for calling you that.”
The apology provided some comfort to Omid’s family, who said after the hearing that it was an important component of the plea deal.
“It was my request,” said Omid, now 14. “It can’t really fix anything, but it’s nice to have.”
However short it was, the apology represented the boy taking responsibility for his actions, said Omid’s father Ben Babakhani.
“If you do something wrong, you have to apologize for it,” Ben Babakhani said.
Calling the attack a “lose-lose,” Ben Babakhani said he was on the verge of tears the entire hearing.
“A lot of times people say justice served, but you don't feel good about it,” he said. “(Omid is) hurt. He's going to have plates in his shoulders for the rest of his life. Hopefully, the kid gets the rehabilitation that he needs.”
The boy is due back in juvenile court in June for sentencing. He could serve time at a juvenile detention center.
Omid missed almost a month of school following the attack, his mother said. A competitive swimmer, he has returned to the pool as part of his physical therapy. He hopes to be back swimming with his team this summer.
As Omid spoke, Melissa Babakhani gazed at her son and broke down in tears. The past two months have been a blur of doctor visits and meetings with authorities. Lost in all of that, she said, is any indication of what promoted the boy to single out her son.
“I just don’t know why,” she said.