- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A Northern California teenager accused of setting the clothing of a gender-neutral teen on fire on a transit bus has pleaded no contest to assault charges.

The Oakland Tribune reports (https://bit.ly/1CscMYs) that 17-year-old Richard Thomas, who was prosecuted as an adult, entered the plea as part of a deal with prosecutors. He initially also was facing a hate-crime charge.

Thomas is expected to be sentenced Nov. 14 to seven years in prison.

Police say Thomas set 18-year-old Luke “Sasha” Fleischman’s skirt on fire aboard an AC Transit bus in Oakland last November in an act of homophobia. Fleischman, who identifies as neither male nor female, was sleeping at the time and suffered burns.

Thomas’ attorney, William DuBois, said homophobia played no role in the bus incident, which he characterized as an ill-conceived prank gone horribly wrong.


Information from: The Oakland Tribune, https://www.oaklandtribune.com

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