An Urbana teenager was ordered to serve probation, perform community service and apologize to her classmates after she admitted to writing a bomb threat on a school bathroom wall earlier this year.
Brianne N. Castle, 19, of Urbana, had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of inducing panic after she wrote a threatening message on a women’s restroom stall at Urbana High School on Jan. 14. The message, written in permanent marker, indicated there would be an explosion in the school. The school was evacuated until authorities determined it was a hoax.
Castle said she was dealing with personal issues and regrets the mistake she made.
“I was going through a lot at the moment, and I didn’t want to be anywhere,” she said. “I didn’t want to be surrounded by people.”
Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio pointed to events like the shooting in Newtown, Conn. and told her to think about how her crime affected her classmates. In all, 26 people were killed in December last year when an armed man broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut armed with several firearms.That incident took place only one month before Castle wrote the threat on the bathroom stall door.
“I want you to give some thought to what they may have been thinking in regard to the national landscape,” Selvaggio said of Castle’s classmates.
Society in general has become less tolerant of crimes committed by juveniles and young adults in recent years, Selvaggio said. While the crime she committed may not have seemed serious at the time, it could harm her chances of finding a job or have other serious consequences later in life if she continues on her current path, he said.
“Both lawyers have touched on the fact of your age,” Selvaggio said. “We live in a world today where the margin of error for young people to make mistakes has closed significantly.”
Along with three years probation, Selvaggio ordered Castle to perform 200 hours of community service and write a letter apologizing to her classmates and staff at Urbana High School. Along with fines and court costs, Selvaggio also ordered Castle to meet with Urbana police officers to explain her motivation for the incident, in the hope it will help them with future emergency preparedness plans.
“The court believes the community is better served by you doing community service hours than by you sitting in jail,” Selvaggio said.