4 teens charged with beating girl with special needs in viral video

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Four teenage girls have been charged in connection with the beating of a girl with special needs recorded in a video that went viral on social media earlier this week.

The girls – ages 13, 14, and 15 – are charged with aggravated battery and mob action, according to a tweet from Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Thursday.

Police charged another 15-year-old girl with aggravated battery Thursday evening.

The video shared on Twitter Monday evening shows a Facebook recording of several females approaching a girl and hitting her as onlookers laugh. The person who posted the video said the girl has a mental disability.

By Tuesday evening, the post had been retweeted more than 127,000 times, and the video had more than 3 million views.

"The hate that we all saw is an affront to who we are as Chicagoans," police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said, referring to the video that shows people beating the girl as she screams.

"Actions depicted in the video are difficult to watch, to say the least," Johnson said. "And I hope that they become a teachable moment, for not only these young individuals but actually for all of us. Hate, bullying and bigotry are cancers of our society that do nothing but break and divide us."

In the video, the girl waives her arms as she tries to fend off her attackers. The video was posted by someone who described herself in the caption as a friend of the girl, who she said has a "mental disability." 

The two younger girls appeared together for a hearing Thursday morning at the Cook County Juvenile Justice Center before Judge Terrence Sharkey, each wearing a juvenile detention uniform of a purple shirt and navy sweatpants.

The 14-year-old, who wore her hair long to her shoulders, was released to the custody of her mother and ordered to be placed on electronic monitoring.

“She’s a good girl when she wants to be,” the girl’s mother said after court. The mother added that older girls in the neighborhood were a bad influence on her daughter. “I’m not for her beating on anyone. I’m just so irritated with all this,” she said.

The older girl, who wore her hair short, was ordered to be placed on electronic monitoring, but she will be placed at the Saura Center — a temporary shelter for juveniles who would otherwise be kept in juvenile detention. That girl’s mother had told the judge that she feared for her family’s safety if she returned home.

“I’m fearful for my life and for my daughter’s life,” the woman said. “I don’t think she’d be safe to leave out this courtroom.”

Both parents told the judge they have received multiple threats against their daughters and their families. Prosecutors had asked for both girls to be held in juvenile detention “for their safety.” Sharkey encouraged the families to report any threats to the police, which they said they had already done.

A video appearing to show at least one of the attackers apologizing for the incident appeared on social media Wednesday.

The Sun-Times Media Wire and Associated Press contributed to this report.