Both Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and and former BSO Deputy Scot Peterson have faced intense criticism for their actions before and after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February. Now, they’re facing a new wave of accusations over a very nasty assault case involving Israel’s son.
Peterson, who handled the case at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago, is accused of giving Peterson’s son, who was 17 years old at the time, preferential treatment.
According to Local 10 News:
The case involved two 17-year-old students bullying a 14-year-old freshman, with one holding down the younger boy by his ankles while the other kicked the victim, grabbed his genitals and then took the victim’s own baseball bat and began shoving it against his buttocks, simulating rape, through the boy’s clothes.
One of those assailants, the boy who allegedly held down the victim, was Israel’s son, Brett. Defense attorney Alex Arreaza, who represents shooting victim Anthony Borges, who was shot five times in the Valentine’s Day massacre but survived, said the case could have led to felony charges.
“He could be charged with a lewd and lascivious, and I’m being conservative,” Arreaza said.
The attorney objects to Peterson’s claim that the attack was “simple battery” under the school board’s discipline matrix. However, “sexual misconduct” and “serious” battery are both included in the matrix and seem to apply in this case.
Both of the boys only received a three-day suspension for the attack on the 14-year-old.
“What is that? Is that like an alternative universe law?” Arreaza said. “What happens? Because you’re in the school you don’t have to obey regular laws?”
Asked if he believed the sheriff’s son received preferential treatment, Arreaza replied: “You will never see somebody grabbing somebody’s crotch and poking some kid in the butt with a bat and getting a simple battery for it.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was gunned down on the third floor, said the new revelations “infuriated” him.
“Scot Peterson failed to do his job again,” he said. “It’s just another example of a bad crime and somebody not being held accountable. It’s kind of interesting the intersection of the same people.”
Guttenberg said his daughter would be alive if not for Peterson, calling him “the lowest form of life available.”
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was also killed on the third floor at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, reportedly blamed the controversial PROMISE program, which is designed to keep minors out of jail. The program allegedly allowed the school shooter to avoid a criminal record that would have prevented him from purchasing seven rifles:
The school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, never faced any charges despite numerous incidents inside and outside of school, including one that led to a referral to the PROMISE program, with which Superintendent Robert Runcie claimed Cruz had never been associated.
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in February, Israel called PROMISE “an excellent program” that was “helping many, many people.” Including his own son, perhaps.
Pollack also told Local 10 News that he believes Peterson’s handling of the incident may have given the deputy job security at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“[Peterson] was lazy and this could have given him protection to keep his job at the school during those four years,” Pollack said.
Although Israel publicly criticized Peterson for his inaction during the shooting that left 17 dead and 17 wounded, he didn’t fire the 54-year-old. Instead he allowed Peterson to resign and receive a $100,000-a-year public pension.
Royer Borges, father of shooting survivor Anthony Borges, suggested that the deputy’s incompetence should have been dealt with a long time ago. “Maybe if Deputy Peterson would have been made to answer for this, he may have been replaced by a more competent deputy.”
He added: “If this wouldn’t have been the sheriff’s son, would a sexual assault have been reduced to a simple battery?”
Peterson noted in his report that the victim’s parents were notified of the discipline and “did not request additional law enforcement action.” The mother of the victim confirmed this to Local 10, saying the family members only wanted to put the matter behind them and had made peace with the sheriff and his son.
Israel didn’t reply to multiple requests for comment from Local 10.
Both Borges and Guttenberg are calling for Peterson’s handling of the assault to be investigated.
“I don’t care if it was four days ago or four years ago,” Guttenberg said. “If people didn’t do their job and they failed in their responsibilities, it should be investigated.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association recently voted 534 to 94 that they did not have confidence in Israel:
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, with the union, vows to ask Gov. Rick Scott to remove Israel from office, according to union President Jeff Bell.
According to Florida statute, Gov. Scott has the power to suspend the sheriff for things like “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty” and “may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension.” The actual power to remove the sheriff from office is in the hands of the state Senate.
The union stepped up its pressure by paying for a billboard on Interstate 95 telling Gov. Rick Scott that “there is no confidence in Sheriff Israel.”
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) May 4, 2018