A 19-year-old Chalfont man who reportedly made racist and threatening comments on a social media video posted in July was ordered to undergo racial sensitivity training, authorities announced.
Andrew J. Smith pleaded guilty Wednesday to harassment and was also sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Diane E. Gibbons to a year of probation, mental health assessments, and continued racial sensitivity training at The Peace Center in Langhorne and at Good Shepard Mediation in Philadelphia, according to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.
The racial sensitivity training was an arrangement made by the victim’s family and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
In the video Smith posted, he reportedly made racist and threatening comments directed at a juvenile girl and another victim, the DA's office said.
Smith also indicated he had a gun, but no firearm was ever found during a search of his home and the cars he had access to, the DA's office said.
In an impact statement, the girl said the threats and comments made her afraid for her life and made her not want to go outside, the DA's office said.
In court, her parents said their "daughter’s life was forever changed by the events of July, but they still wanted Smith to be rehabilitated rather than jailed," the DA's office said.
Gibbons also ordered Smith to stay off social media, have no contact with the victims or their families, and write two essays, one on slavery and racial prejudice in America and the other on ethnic and racial cleansing in other parts of the world, the DA's office said.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub said he admired the family "for their grace in handling this entire situation."
“People have a right to freedom of speech and to their own beliefs, no matter how vulgar, distasteful, or racist,” Weintraub said.
“But when one targets another with threats because of the color of their skin, it’s criminal. We will prosecute people who weaponize social media to threaten and harass others."
Prior to Wednesday’s court appearance, Smith had undergone two days of racial sensitivity training at The Peace Center, and the victim’s family and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office recommended he continue that training as part of his sentence, the DA's office said.
“This has to be a healing moment for our county,” Gibbons said, praising the girl and her family for their compassion and understanding.
The case was investigated by Bucks County Detectives and the Central Bucks Regional Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose.
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