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Washington Supreme Court upholds decision to force teen to write apology to classmate

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Washington state Supreme Court

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Supreme Court has upheld a judge’s decision to force a teenager to write a letter of apology to a classmate he was convicted of sexually assaulting.

The 17-year-old boy challenged the judge’s order as a violation of his free-speech rights, and in a 6-3 decision by Justice Charles Johnson on Thursday, the court agreed that compelled speech normally does violate the U.S. Constitution.

However, the majority said convictions entail some loss of liberty, and the forced apology was reasonably related to furthering his rehabilitation.

The dissent, by Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, noted that the boy maintained his innocence even after his conviction, and forcing him to apologize went too far.

She said the judge could have instead ordered him to write an essay about the lifelong effects rape has on young victims.