themighty logo

Why Supporters of a Boy With Autism Flocked to This Courthouse to Protest

A family being sued because of the behavior of their child with autism is receiving a lot of support from their community.

Parul Agrawal and Vidyut Gopal are being sued by two families from their former Sunnyvale, California, neighborhood who claim the couple’s inability to control their 11-year-old son with autism constitutes a “public nuisance” and potentially caused property values to fall, NBC News reported. The lawsuit, filed by Kumaran Santhanam and Bindu Pothen and Robert and Marci Flowers, accuses Gopal and Agrawal of not doing enough to control their son who reportedly assaulted children as well as other people in the neighborhood.

In July, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the parents and, after seven years in their former home, the family moved to another Sunnyvale neighborhood. At the judge-ordered, court-supervised mediation on Wednesday, Dec. 16, protesters lined up outside the courthouse to show their support for the Gopal family. However, the parties failed to settle the lawsuit at the mediation and now they’ll have to set a court date. 

We are very disappointed that the case did not settle today,” Gopal told NBC. “We came in very good faith to negotiate and settle this case and put this mater behind us. We were very disappointed that we were not met with the same good faith from the other side, and hence it would not settle.”

The case has implications beyond just this family, Areva Martin, the Gopal family attorney told ABC. Protestors and community members alike feel it could set a national precedent for how lawsuits regarding autism are dealt with in the future.

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,” Robert Flowers told Mercury News in November. “This is not about autism. This is about public safety.”

Get more on the story from the video below: