It was a “Sunday like any other Sunday,” Kym Karath said, before local kids terrorized her special needs son and his caretaker while the two were on a walk in Malibu West.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, March 12, when Karath’s son, Eric, and his caretaker set out on one of their regular walks around the neighborhood where Kym and Eric have lived for the past decade. Not long into their routine, though, Eric’s caretaker felt a rock come fly toward her and land on the ground near her foot, Karath said. Then, another one, closer to Eric.

“What she had told me happened was that they were in the usual neighborhood walking, when something went flying by her and landed at her foot — close to her foot — and she looked, not knowing what it was, and then another — and it was a rock, a big rock, and then another rock came by her... Actually, I think the next rock almost hit Eric in the head, and then she threw herself around Eric and another rock came and hit her a little on her foot — hit her leg — and she started screaming,” Karath described to The Malibu Times a couple weeks after the alleged incident occurred. She declined to give the name of her son’s caretaker, except to say she was employed through the Aurelia Foundation, which was founded by Karath to help parents of special needs children aged 22 and older. Karath, an actress and writer famous for her role of Gretl in the original “The Sound of Music,” began the nonprofit about four years ago.

The identity of the kids the caretaker saw throwing the rocks — described as a group of about five boys ages 12-13 — is still under investigation, according to officials at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. What is clear is that the incident is being treated as a hate crime — according to Detective J.T. Manwell from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, “Because of what they allegedly said to the caretaker.”

Karath said what the group shouted were threats against the two: One because he is disabled, and the other because she is Latina. 

“They said, something around the lines of, ‘We want to kill you, you Mexican,’ and...” Karath paused while recounting the story, “the actual words were, ‘And your f-ing r-tard.’”

Eric, Karath explained, suffered a stroke when he was a few weeks old that damaged his ability to communicate, his decision making and judgment and left him “fragile” with a high degree of anxiety. At the age of 25, he does not speak and depends on family and caretakers. “He needs help with everything,” Karath said. “He’s really dependent on the goodness of the people around him.”

Karath said aside from one rock striking the caregiver’s leg, the two made it back physically unharmed, but “shattered and shaking.”

“They went for their usual walk around the neighborhood and they came back in a state of absolute panic, fear, hysteria,” she described. “I will never forget what they looked like when they walked in the door.”

Manwell said details about the suspects and investigation were being kept confidential because those involved in the alleged attack are minors; however, he did describe the possible penalties the boys could face if they are eventually found guilty of participating in the hate crime attack.

“Repercussions in something like this could be anything from home on probation to certain diversion programs to actual time in juvenile hall,” Manwell said.

He said the case has gotten “dicey,” due to some misidentifications, but that it was an active and ongoing investigation.

First Walk

Photo taken on Eric’s first walk since the alleged incident occurred. “Eric and his father, Philippe, are on the left; my husband, Jeff, and his son, Dylan, who has cerebral palsy, are on the right,” Kym Karath described.

Karath said she hoped the boys receive education — from their parents as well as from society — to ensure no one else goes through what Eric and his caretaker experienced.

“We can’t raise kids to be predators. We can’t raise kids to be cruel. We can’t raise kids to be aggressive,” Karath said. “And, I mean, aggression to the most helpless members of society is — it’s inhumane. Aggression on any level is unacceptable, but to an utterly helpless victim? The elderly? The handicapped? And we certainly can’t raise kids to be racist.”

She added what she would say to the group if she had the chance.

“At what point did they look at my son and think that he was less of a human being than any of them? Or at the caregiver? At what point does the natural empathy, which I do feel there is — human to human — does it break down completely? I, frankly, would show them a picture of themselves as a baby and a picture of Eric as a baby and say, ‘What do you think the difference is?’” Karath said. “The difference is, they didn’t have a stroke when they were three weeks old. That’s the difference. That’s why they can talk and he can’t. Do they think they’re superior? Do they realize that this is how life works? Then they can look at a picture of a Hispanic child and a picture of themselves and say, ‘What do you think the difference is here? Did you choose the color of your skin?’”

Karath said it was about a week later that she and Eric — together with her ex-husband, Eric’s father; her husband; and her husband’s son, who also has special needs — were able to resume walking around the neighborhood, but that it has taken longer to shake off the sting of that afternoon.

When asked if the incident has affected her feelings about “coming home” to Malibu West, she said: “It’s unnerved me. There’s no doubt. And depressed me. And believe me, I would like to say that it didn’t, but it did. I do; I feel different. I’m trying to overcome those feelings, but it’s... It’s a struggle.”

(11) comments

Sam Levinson

@Craig Strachan and? you obviously read fake news. you obvious love straw man arguments. who in heII in the trump administration is skapegoating latinos or mocking the disabled. literally nobody. It was all FAKE NEWS perpetrated by CNN (Clinton News Network). You libs are so consumed by your hatred that you just cannot be happy for the guy that he won the election.

Sam Levinson

@Dani Sue. YES, we ARE empowered by the President. Empowered against BIGOTS like you who cannot tolerate conservative view points. Time for you people to take a back seat in the back of the bus for 8 years ago and let us right the ship.

Dani Sue

You people and bigot. Very adultlike. Kinda sums up the current administration.

Sam Levinson

clever

Rebecca Mann

As usual buried deep in the article (it's lucky it even made it in there) is that the perps were only 12-13 years old. In other words, not so much a hate crime as a dumb kid crime. I've known several young teens over the years who did really stupid things and were really mean to people including the disabled, and turned out just fine and are very compassionate now. That said, it doesn't excuse their behavior, but I also don't think sending them off to kiddy jail under a "hate crime" charge will solve a thing for anyone, where they will be exposed to drugs and violence. They are better off being made to do some volunteer work with the special needs or some ether similar activity to help better understand this population and stand up for them instead of against them. This has absolutely nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with the perpetrators being dumb kids. Until the end of time, 12-13 year olds kids are going to do dumb things like throw rocks at the disabled. It's how we respond to it that matters.

Craig Strachan

As the parent of a developmentally-disabled child who has attended Malibu public schools since kindergarten, I find this deeply depressing and really very surprising: Malibu, as a community, is so much better than this.

I am also led to ask myself what has happened in the wider culture in the past, oh, couple years or so that may have led these boys to conclude it is somehow okay to mock the disabed, or scapegoat Latinos?

Sam Levinson

oh get the heII out of here with your implications that Trump had anything to do with this. You didn't say his name but it is CRYSTAL CLEAR what you meant. An awful group of kids attacked this poor kid, and you, in despicable fashion, bring politics into it. You are a bigot.

Craig Strachan

Call someone else what you are - a classic Trumpian move.

Sam Levinson

uh yeah I voted for him. And YOU, sir, have exposed yourself as a bigot.

Craig Strachan

Well, I said "mock the disabled" and "scapegoat Latinos". You heard "Trump".

I rest my case.

Dani Sue

Racists are not new to this administration. What is new is a President that has belittled just about everyone that he doesn't agree with. This sends a message and has empowered some. Were the kids swayed by Trump? Probably not but I do see a trend. It is our job to make sure that our kids grow up to care about others. Especially those that are different.

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