Teen With Autism Jailed for Terrorism

The Doctors examine the troubling case of a teenager with autism, mental retardation and attention deficit disorder who was accused of terrorism.

In November of 2015, Peyton was arrested by the FBI on terrorism suspicion after he sent bomb-making instructions to who he thought was a member of ISIS.

Due to the 18-year-old’s challenges, his arrest raised eyebrows and caused many to question if someone who has the mental capabilities of a child can also be a terrorist.

Watch: Raising a Child with Autism

In a Doctors exclusive, we are joined by Peyton’s father Tony and his attorney James Gallini. His father explains that problems arose after Peyton was found watching a documentary at school about ISIS and then bought a book about the terrorist organization. He notes that there were never any prior red flags concerning his son and terrorism.

The family’s attorney says Peyton only communicated with members of the FBI via email and that ISIS and Peyton have never been in contact. According to the lawyer, the FBI questioned him without a lawyer present after he waived his right to one. He notes that Peyton was not even sure what an attorney was before his FBI questioning.

The Doctors are also joined by retired FBI Agent Bobby Chacon who says that sometimes terrorists seek out those with mental issues as easy prey. He also notes that the FBI did not prosecute the case, as it was handed down to an Alabama state prosecutor.

Watch: Autism: What Everyone Should Know

Peyton was found not guilty by reason of mental defect. Since the taping of this episode, Peyton was released from police custody, but he was not released immediately following the ruling. Initially, he was held for further evaluation. 

The Doctors’ takeaway from an incident like this is that parents should always be aware of their children’s behavior online in hopes of avoiding a similar situation.

Peyton’s attorney James Gallini released the following statement since the taping of this episode regarding his release:

"Peyton Pruitt was released to his family with minor stipulations by Order of Judge Phillip Seay on October 18, 2016 following receipt of the 2nd mental health evaluation.

Dr. Amber Simpler, a Forensic Psychologist for the Department of Mental Health’s Taylor Hardin Secure Mental Health Facility, conducted a ‘Risk Assessment’ following the determination by the court that Peyton was Not Guilty by reason of Mental Defect on September 8th, 2016. The report, which was released to the court on October 17, 2016, did not recommend placement at a secure mental health facility. It was recommended that Peyton could be released to his family with minor stipulations.

The minor stipulations include no computer or internet capable technology at home for Peyton, secure WIFI, adult supervision, secure any weapons in a safe so they are inaccessible to Peyton, parental training/counseling, quarterly home visit by law enforcement who will submit report to the court on compliance, and participation in special education program at his local high school until age 21. Judge Seay will retain involvement with the ability to modify the terms, including eliminating oversight completely in the future.

Peyton’s legal team considers this an unexpected and considerable event to have the Judge make the decision for release without the need for a hearing on the matter. This office is committed to continue the fight to bring awareness to the public on the FBI’s cyberterrorism tactics which includes manufacturing criminality as we believe happened with Peyton Pruitt."

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