When an 18-year-old with profound mental disabilities performed sexual acts on a 6-year-old neighbor, the small town of Paris, Texas, was unforgiving. says the Dallas Morning News. Aaron Hart’s punishment – 100 years in prison for a single incident – has stunned veteran disability rights advocates, who believed counseling, probation or even placement in a group home would have sufficed for a first-time offender with the mental maturity of a second-grader.
Aaron is 18, never committed a felony, had no violent record. He couldn’t understand the seriousness of what he did,” said his father, Robert Hart. “I never dreamed they would think about sending him to prison. When they said 100 years – it was terror, pure terror to me.” The sentence raises serious questions about how people with profound disabilities are prosecuted in Texas, at a time when both state lawmakers and the U.S. Supreme Court are considering the appropriate punishment for people who are young, mentally disabled, or both. Repeat child molesters and rapists routinely receive lesser sentences than Hart’s.