Standing outside the Hamilton County courtroom where a teenager faced a charge of raping a 69-year-old man, the boy's family said there has been a mistake.
"I know he didn't do it," his mother said.
"He ain't a pedophile," another family member said.
"That's not what type of child I got," his mother said, shaking her head.
Police charged the 17-year-old with aggravated rape in the attack on a man who was running along West Mississippi Avenue in North Chattanooga around dawn Monday.
Early Thursday, District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed a transfer hearing petition requesting the boy's case be moved to Hamilton County Criminal Court and that he be tried as an adult. Magistrate Judge Troy McDougal ruled the boy will stay in the county's juvenile detention center rather than be released to house arrest.
The Juvenile Court judge must decide whether to grant the DA's request and try the teen as an adult. If Judge Rob Philyaw grants the request and the boy is convicted as an adult of aggravated rape as an adult, the youth could face 15 to 60 years in prison.
The assault rattled Chattanooga's running community. The West Mississippi Avenue route is a popular one, and news of the assault came just days after saboteurs threw oil and tacks on the bike course of the city's high-profile Little Debbie Ironman competition.
Police arrested the teen Wednesday at his school, his mother said. Afterward, Court Administrator Samuel Mairs said, the teen "gave a verbal and written confession to his actions during the rape."
The boy's mother said she wasn't with him when he gave that confession. She says he is innocent. Her son likes music and dancing. He sings in the church choir. He's been to this courthouse before to face charges of disorderly conduct, but he's devoted his life to Jesus Christ, she said.
"He's a good child," she said.
Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at firstname.lastname@example.org and 765-580-2519.