A boy who was given criminal charges for scaring people in an Eagan park has learned his legal fate: 10 hours of chores.
The charges stemmed from a social media hysteria that was triggered by reports of "a man wearing a mask near the woods in (Patrick Eagan Park) acting strangely" this past June.
Those reports were shared by Eagan police on their Facebook page, and the post went viral, generating hundreds of shares and media attention:
The "masked man," reported to be of a "smaller frame," turned out to be an 11-year-old kid wearing a hoodie and a Mortal Kombat mask.
According to an email from the boy's grandfather, Greg Scott, the boy was wearing "the mask and hoodie to become invisible and play with imaginary friends."
When his mom saw one of the Facebook threads, she called police to tell them what had really happened.
The police came to interview the family, and the next thing they knew, the boy was charged with fifth degree assault and disorderly conduct.
A trial ensued, and during cross-examination, Scott said, "every witness said the 'masked predator' never threatened anyone, never behaved aggressively, and was always polite."
The judge agreed to drop the assault charge, but upheld the disorderly conduct charge, saying "an 11-year-old should have realized people were scared."
According to Scott's email:
He sentenced my grandson to 10 hours of chores for his mom; mom to write down the chores he does on a piece of paper and send it into the court in 90 days. No juvenile record, no mandated followup. The judge also compelled my grandson to obey his mom and said mom's rules are the judge's rules. And then he told my grandson he's a good kid who made a mistake and sent us all home.
In summary, the kid has 90 days to document his chores and report them to the court.
"The adults in our family all agree it was good outcome to a situation that should never have gone to a criminal prosecution," Scott added. "Even though the situation generated lots of hysteria, we learned today that people really were scared."