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Teen's "slave for sale" Craigslist post prompts hate crime charges

Naperville, Illinois — A suburban Chicago 14-year-old faces hate crime and other charges for allegedly posting on Craigslist a picture of an African American classmate with the caption, "Slave for sale."

Prosecutors allege the white Naperville Central High School freshman also included "an offensive racial slur" in the ad that they called "beyond disturbing." The teen's defense attorney counters the students were friends and school authorities are handling the matter with an apology and suspension.

Authorities didn't disclose the teen's name because he's a juvenile.

He appeared Wednesday in DuPage County juvenile court, where he was charged with two counts of committing a hate crime and one count of disorderly conduct. He's due back in court Dec. 18.

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Naperville Central High School in Illinois in undated photo Google Maps

Assistant State's Attorney Lee Roupas said the teen took the photo last week while the two sat at the same lunch table. Prosecutors describe the allegations as "serious and aggravating," and said the actions risked the safety of the victim.

"Hate crimes have no place in our society and will not be tolerated," the county's State's Attorney Robert B. Berlin said in a statement. "Anyone, regardless of age, accused of such disgraceful actions will be charged accordingly."

"This was a despicable and extremely offensive post that is not at all reflective of the caring, welcoming community that our department serves and protects every day," Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said in a statement quoted by CBS Chicago.

Defense attorney Harry Smith said the two were friends and Central's principal is "getting the two friends together" and coordinating an apology. Authorities say the teen is serving an in-school suspension. Students told CBS Chicago it's a two-day suspension.

It's not yet clear what kind of penalty he might face if convicted. Paul Darrah, a spokesman for the state's attorney office, told The Associated Press the aim for juveniles is "accountability, not punishment," though the student is "going to face probation at a minimum."

The ad followed an Oct. 26 incident at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Naperville in which some black customers said they were asked by restaurant employees to change tables because of a regular customer's request.

Darrah said that case "had no bearing on our decision to file charges against the juvenile."

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