Teenager who swiped judge’s flag faced inspiring consequences

 Teenager who swiped judge’s flag faced inspiring consequences

Thirty-fifth District Court Judge Mike Gerou holds his recovered Irish flag.

District Court judge makes feel-good ruling regarding thief’s fate

When a Canton teenager swiped an Irish flag hanging from a home one recent early morning in southeast Canton, he had no clue the flag’s owner was 35th District Court Judge Mike Gerou.

Following the collection of video evidence from a series of nearby security cameras – and some stellar detective work from the Canton Police Department – the flag thief was identified and the flag returned to Gerou.

This story took a surprising (and inspiring) turn when law enforcement officials asked Gerou if he wanted to press charges.

“I told them, ‘No, I don’t want to prosecute’,” Gerou explained. “Instead, I invited the young man and his dad to my house so we could talk. The funny thing is, when the kid’s dad said they were agreeable to this, I told him we might as well meet at my house as your son obviously knows where I live.”

Gerou escorted the father and son to his backyard deck, where they discussed everything except the flag-stealing incident.

“First of all, I asked him where he went to school, what his interests were,” Gerou recalled. “He said he ultimately wanted to get into cybersecurity, which I thought was cool.

“I talked to him about choices and stupid stuff I did when I was his age and how I caught a break here and there.”

Judge Gerous Irish flag is home again

Gerou made a point to emphasize how the people young, impressionable kids hang out with can impact their lives – positively or not.

“Dale Rumberger, who coached Salem’s baseball team for several years, used to tell the kids who attended a clinic he held every year a story I thought was important,” Gerou said. “He’d tell them, ‘Look at the three people you hang out with the most. You’re going to end up being the average of those three’.

“The point being, if you want to do greater things and aspire to do more, elevate who you hang out with. If you hang out with people who make bad choices and have no direction, you’re going to get dragged down to whatever they do. What these kids need to ask themselves is: Do these kids deserve to hang out with you?”

Gerou capped the conversation with what he described as the golden rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated.

“Do you want people taking your stuff? No!,” Gerou said. “Do you want to be treated fairly? Yes!

“The young man actually left my house with a smile on his face and I think he and his dad appreciated the conversation. I got the impression that he was obviously a bright kid and I hope he feels empowered going forward by making good choices.”

If you have a story idea for SocialHouseNews.com, contact Editor-In-Chief Ed Wright at edwright@socialhousenews.com or 734-664-4657.

Ed Wright

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