Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Boy who got tied to a tree, and set on fire gets justice thanks to last words on a deathbed

Following a heart-wrenching incident where he was set on fire by an attacker, justice was finally served years later thanks to a deposition given by the victim on his deathbed. The perpetrator responsible for this horrific act was imprisoned, and the boy’s family received a substantial $150 million settlement through a civil lawsuit.

On his eighth birthday, another child tied Robbie to a tree, doused him in gasoline, and ignited him in the woods. Despite enduring the agonizing flames that ravaged his body, the young boy managed to make his way home, collapsing on the street, engulfed in fire.

Robbie’s mother discovered him in a near-death state, his body covered in severe blisters, with skin hanging off his ankles. With burns encompassing 99 percent of his body and losing his eyelids in the process, Robbie defied the grim prognosis from hospital staff who believed he wouldn’t survive. Through countless skin grafts and over 150 surgeries, he gradually regained strength. Despite being traumatized and disfigured, Robbie became known for his unwavering optimism.

Reports indicate that Robbie identified his attacker as a 13-year-old named Don, although the court was unable to establish a motive and subsequently acquitted the boy. However, at the age of 20, Robbie’s third-degree burns transformed into deadly skin cancer. As he lay in a hospital bed, knowing his time was limited, he sought justice by recording a deposition where he once again named Don as his assailant. In the video, Robbie revealed Don’s alleged motive: to silence him. According to Robbie, just 17 days before the fire incident, Don had reportedly sexually assaulted him.

Robbie recounted, “Don grabbed me by my shoulder and threw gas in my face, after that I don’t really remember anything.” Tragically, authorities classified Robbie’s death as a homicide due to the burns he suffered. Subsequently, his family pursued legal action, leading to the award of $150 million in damages. The case ultimately resulted in Don being sentenced to 40 years in prison.

We are sharing this story once again in light of recent reports highlighting the surge in child sexual abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic in America. Startling statistics reveal that 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault from an adult. It serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address and combat this pervasive issue.

Paul joined the Manchester Evening News in 2004 and Tosbos in 2022. A senior reporter, he's experienced in crime and court reporting - and also holds the defense portfolio.


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