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Teen Burned In Hate Crime Returns Home In Time For Thanksgiving


Photo via Fleischman Family

KTVU and Wires

OAKLAND, Calif. — After spending weeks in the hospital, the 18-year old Oakland teen that was set on fire on an AC Transit bus came home Wednesday just in time for Thanksgiving.

“It’s a wonderful treat except that I have to start cooking again,” joked Sasha Fleishman’s mother Debbie Crandall.

The teen, who does not identify as male or female, is referred to as “they” by close friends rather than he or she.  Sasha’s birth name is Luke.

Sasha Speaks to the Media for the First Time

On November 4th, Fleischman was riding on an AC Transit bus when he was attacked while asleep.  The teen was wearing a skirt when a 16-year Richard Thomas allegedly set the skirt on fire leaving Fleischman with severe burns on his legs.

Police say Thomas admitted to being homophobic but Defense Attorney William Debois denies his teenage client is homophobic.  Debois does concede video on the bus shows his client was responsible for the attack.

“The security footage from the bus makes that very clear.  There is no question about who is responsible in this case.  The question is under what circumstances and with what motivation he is responsible,” said Dubois on Tuesday.

Thomas has been charged as an adult and Dubois is trying to get the case moved back down to the juvenile court system.  A move Sasha Fleischman’s family supports.

“We would say, on principal, that we would think that a 16-year-old should be tried in juvenile court,” said father Karl Fleischman.
The family adds that they don’t know all the facts that led to the adult charges.

“We’re just hoping that something good will come of this,” Crandall said Wednesday.  “That this kind of intolerance that people will realize you can wear unusual clothing and it doesn’t mean you have a right to attack them.”

Original Story

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