Boy, 14, faces charges in severe beating of South Elgin classmate

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:25PM
Charges are now filed in connection with an attack on Henry Sembdner, a middle school student who was left in a coma and hospitalized for five days.


SOUTH ELGIN, Ill. - A fellow student has been charged in connection with an attack on Henry Sembdner, a middle school student who was left in a coma and hospitalized for five days.

The 14-year-old is charged as a juvenile in the attack on the South Elgin 12-year-old. The suspect appeared in court with both of his parents Tuesday. The suspect faces three charges - one felony count of aggravated battery and two misdemeanor counts of battery.

The suspect has been ordered into electronic monitoring and will not be allowed to leave his home, other than to go to school. He will also have an evaluation by a diagnostics center.

The suspect's parents said in court he is still attending school now, although the school has held an expulsion hearing. School district officials say the eighth grade student is not attending Kenyon Woods.

"We are providing educational services for the student," said Mary Fergus, District U-46.

Lance Northcutt, Sembdner family attorney, said Henry didn't know what led to the attack.

"There was no history of bullying, there was no prior interaction between these two kids, but what we still don't know is why this other child reacted the way he did," he said.

Henry's family met with District 46 officials Tuesday afternoon.

"Today was, I think, the first step but not the final step towards uncovering what really happened. We still have a lot of questions they will not answer" Nothcutt said.

Henry returned home February 7. His mother tweeted a picture of his homecoming.



Students at Kenyon Woods Middle School wore Chicago Cubs gear after the attack to support Henry, who is in seventh grade.
PHOTOS: South Elgin students rally around classmate


What happened to Henry is still a shock to all of his friends at school.

"I cannot believe that this happened to my friend," said friend Alyssa Anderson.
"Seeing him the hospital, all of those pictures. It's just so sad. It's horrible," said Alex Best, another friend.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo tweeted a message of support to Henry, promising him tickets to a game and encouraging him to stay strong.



He tweeted another message of support in response to the news Henry was home.



School officials said Henry accidentally bumped into another student in a packed hall. That student became aggressive and began to violently attack the boy. Henry was thrown so hard on the floor that he suffered several skull fractures.

Henry couldn't breathe on his own. He was airlifted to Lutheran General, where he was placed in a medically induced coma.

"He is just so sweet. He would do this for anyone else. He is just the sweetest kid ever," Alyssa said.
Alex said she knows the alleged attacker and rides the bus with him every day.

"I was very shocked, knowing it was him," she said.

Her mother, Jennifer Best, said the horrible incident has brought so many in the community together.

"This poor little innocent child is so known and so loved to so many today. I really feel that that is just giving him more strength to get better, day by day," Best said.

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