A lawsuit over the behavior of a boy with autism in Sunnyvale was back to court Tuesday after neighbors alleged last year that the 11-year-old is a public nuisance and his parents haven’t been able to control is aggressive behavior.
Plaintiffs Kumaran Santhanam and Bindu Pothenand as well as Robert and Marci Flowers claim in their June 12, 2014 suit that that despite trying many times to speak to the parents of the boy on on Arlington Court, the 11-year-old son of Vidyut Gopal and Parul Agrawal would slap or kick their children. And in at least one instance, the suit claims, bit an adult who lives across the street.
In court Tuesday, the judge told both parties to meet again next month for mediation.
The lawsuit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, also alleges the boy's disruptive behavior also created an "as-yet unquantified chilling effect on the otherwise 'hot' local real estate market" and that "people feel constrained in the marketability of their homes as this issue remains unresolved and the nuisance remains unabated." The boy's family is being supported by the Autism Society of the San Francisco Bay Area, which issued a news release earlier this month to garner support and declare the lawsuit a "witch hunt."
"To us, as autism parents," the group wrote, "the alleged incidents seemed relatively unremarkable."
After court Tuesday, parents of the boy accused of assaulting neighborhood children wanted to say little to reporters.
"We're very glad the judge ordered the judicial settlement conference,” Gopal said.
The Flowers, who say their young child was victimized, agreed with Gopal that perhaps all the parents could resolve this themselves and, as the judge put it, “be role models for a solution, not more litigation.”
“We're relieved that this might be over after two years,” Robert Flowers said.
In an interview with the Mercury News on Friday, Robert Flowers said: "I find it offensive that people assume I have no compassion for an autistic family when I am simply trying to defend and protect my children from being assaulted. This is not about autism. This is about public safety."
A judge last July agreed to impose a preliminary injunction against the boy and his parents to ensure the boy does not assault in the neighborhood or their personal property.
Three months later, the Mercury News reported that the family moved out of their home to another house in Sunnyvale where, they say, they have had no problems with their neighbors.