Teen hurt in alleged hate crime leaves hospital

Teen hurt in alleged hate crime leaves hospital
Students at Maybeck High School in Berkeley wear skirts on Friday Nov. 8, 2013, to support 18-year-old classmate Luke "Sasha" Fleischman, who was allegedly set on fire by 16-year-old Richard Thomas, who has been charged as an adult, while the two were riding an AC Transit bus in Oakland. Investigators have said Thomas told them he set Fleischman on fire because he is homophobic. Fleischman was wearing a skirt at the time. (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Doug Oakley)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — An 18-year-old Northern California teen who was set on fire on a public bus in what authorities say was a hate crime has left the hospital just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

"Sasha is doing great, and we are so very happy to have them back in time for the holiday," Sasha Fleischman's father, Karl, told the San Francisco Chronicle after his child was released from St. Francis Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. "Sasha's made great progress."

He referred to Sasha as "them," rather than "him" or "her" because the teen identifies as neither male nor female.

Sasha suffered second- and third-degree burns when the skirt the teen was wearing was set on fire earlier this month on a bus in Oakland.

Prosecutors have charged 16-year-old Richard Thomas, 16, of Oakland, as an adult with hate crimes in the attack. Police say Thomas told investigators he was homophobic.

Thomas' attorney, William Du Bois, has said his client is not homophobic and engaged in a prank that went wrong.

Karl Fleischman told the Chronicle that the teen is healing well from skin grafts and has been practicing walking in full-leg bandages that will be needed to control blood circulation as the healing progresses.

"Sasha is really pushing to see what they can do," the elder Fleischman said,

Karl Fleischman said Sasha plans to return to classes at Maybeck High School in Berkeley on Monday.