Vermont high school student charged; authorities say he stabbed classmates with a needle

Wednesday, November 1st 2006, 10:14 pm
By: News On 6

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) _ A 16-year-old boy accused of jabbing more than a dozen other students with a hypodermic needle he found in the street was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault, authorities said.

Justin Darrah, a sophomore at Bellows Free Academy, was cited on 13 counts and ordered to appear in court Nov. 9, according to Officer Frank McCarty. He is being prosecuted as an adult.

The attacks, which occurred Thursday and Friday at the school, were apparently random and not the result of any grudge or ill will, according to McCarty, who is also the resource officer for the 1,236-student high school.

``You now have Hepatitis B,'' he told some of the boys and girls after jabbing them, according to McCarty.

Aggravated assault carries a penalty of up to of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 in Vermont.

Darrah threw the needle away after the incidents, McCarty said, leaving authorities unable to test it for disease and the alleged victims fearful that they may have contracted hepatitis or HIV.

Initially, eight students were reported to have been stuck with the needle, but more have since come forward, McCarty said.

Darrah was questioned about the attacks but requested the presence of a lawyer, McCarty said. His mother, Nicole Clements, declined comment Wednesday.

The students, who remain in school, were advised to get tested for hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases. But it could be months before they know whether they were infected with anything.

Nathan Parah, a 15-year-old sophomore at the school, said he knows six of the students and said they didn't seemed fazed.

``They acted like it was no big deal. They acted like they didn't care,'' he said after school Wednesday.

School officials found out about the incidents late Friday and sent a letter to parents Tuesday, notifying them of what had happened, said Schools Superintendent Marilyn Grunewald.