Man in court for belly button fixation sparks autism debate

(Ohio Attorney General's Office)

AKRON, OH (AP) — An Ohio judge is trying to decide how to deal with a man who has been diagnosed with autism and has repeatedly violated his probation for sexual battery by asking women to touch their bellybuttons.

29-year-old Graig Burrier pleaded guilty Wednesday to a probation violation after he asked a female jogger if he could see her bellybutton. He had been convicted of sexual battery in 2011.

The judge must decide whether to send Burrier back to prison or to a treatment program for sex offenders.

Prosecutors say Burrier isn’t autistic and that earlier treatment didn’t change his behavior. Burrier’s attorney disagrees, saying Burrier is autistic and needs more intensive treatment.

Experts say autism can lead to repetitive behavior that’s difficult but not impossible to change.

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