An Ohio judge is trying to decide how to deal with a man who has been diagnosed with autism and has repeatedly violated his probation for sexual battery by asking women to touch their bellybuttons.
Graig Burrier, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a probation violation after he asked a female jogger if he could see her bellybutton. He had been convicted of sexual battery in 2011.
The judge must decide whether to send Burrier back to prison or to a treatment program for sex offenders.
Prosecutors say Burrier isn't autistic and that earlier treatment didn't change his behavior.
The prosecutor's office released the following statement Thursday:
It was recently reported that Defendant Graig Burrier was labeled as a person who has Autism. In the most recent evaluation requested by the Court, a psychologist found Mr. Burrier does not display symptoms of Autism and does not meet diagnostic criteria for Autism. His defense attorney has never provided any records documenting a diagnosis of Autism. In July shortly after having GPS monitoring removed, Burrier followed a woman on a bike trail and told her he needed to touch her as part of a college project. This was not an impulsive behavior; it was deliberate. He stalked her on that same trail three weeks later and told her he was not able to stop thinking of her. This is not the type of behavior someone with Autism typically exhibits.
In 2012, Burrier was convicted of sexually assaulting a six-month pregnant woman after posing as a student trying to get through a Fraternity ritual that he needed to touch a pregnant woman’s belly button. He proceeded to push her against a wall, covered her mouth and threatened her to not tell anyone. Burrier then digitally penetrated her. Our office requested that he be sent to prison. He was placed on probation and later sent to prison for new violations in 2013. The court granted him early release from prison in 2016 with GPS monitoring. The court removed the GPS monitoring in July of 2017 days before the most recent incident.
Burrier's attorney disagrees, saying Burrier is autistic and needs more intensive treatment.
Experts say autism can lead to repetitive behavior that's difficult but not impossible to change.