A Bridgeport teen with Down Syndrome is facing charges after police say he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old classmate, who is also mentally disabled, in a bathroom at Harding High School last August.
According to police, a group of onlookers used cellphones to record video while 19-year-old Patrick Nolan allegedly assaulted a fellow student in the school bathroom.
Defense attorney Mark D. Phillips said the special needs students were victimized. The other teens egged them on, he said, and the special needs students are not supposed to be in the bathroom unsupervised.
"He is a victim, as is anyone else who may have been affected by this ... type of conduct," Phillips said of Nolan.
Investigators learned of the attack after the victim reached out to a teacher, police said. The victim was taken to Bridgeport Hospital and his parents contacted police, according to the Associated Press.
Nolan is charged with first-degree sexual assault and third-degree child abuse. He was released into the custody of his parents and voluntarily attended a hearing at Bridgeport court, Phillips said. Nolan was released on a promise to appear.
Police said they interviewed students and reviewed school security footage prior to making the arrest.
Phillips said Nolan comes from a "decent, hardworking, good" family and has several siblings. Prior to Nolan's arrest, the family never had any contact with the criminal justice system.
"All you need to do is spend 15 seconds with Patrick Nolan to know he is not capable of forming this kind of criminal intent," Phillips said, adding that Nolan has no history of behavior issues or aggression.
The Bridgeport superintendent declined to comment on the matter.