Father Speaks Out About Neighbors' Lawsuit Over Son With Autism

Vidyut Gopal calls allegations that his son wreaked havoc "absolutely untrue."

ByABC News
November 3, 2015, 3:07 PM

— -- The father who is being sued by former neighbors who allege his son with autism is a public nuisance says he hopes the case is dismissed and that his family can move back into their home of seven years.

“We like that house and we like that area and neighborhood and we would look forward to moving back,” Vidyut Gopal said in an exclusive interview that aired today on “Good Morning America.”

“The toughest part on our family was realizing that this neighborhood where we had lived for seven years, that people had suddenly turned antagonistic towards us and towards our family and having to take this decision to move out of there once this lawsuit was filed."

The lawsuit filed against Gopal’s family by two families in their former Sunnyvale, Calif., neighborhood claims that Gopal’s 11-year-old son wreaked havoc on the neighborhood and that Gopal and his wife, Parul Agrawal, did not do enough to control their son.

One plaintiff, Robert Flowers, told ABC News that Gopal’s son, who is not being named because he is a minor, threw his son to the ground, “grabbed, with both hands, his hair and shook him violently.”

The former neighbors claim their legal case against the Gopals is not about autism but about the boy’s behaviors.

“It’s about the safety of our children,” Flowers said. “They were attacked on multiple occasions.”

“They [neighborhood children] have been slapped, hit, kicked, basically terrorized,” said another plaintiff, Bindu Pothen.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for the boy’s alleged behavior, as well as an injunction requiring his parents to "prevent future occurrences of the same." The plaintiffs have also stated concerns that their property values could be affected if they decide to sell their homes.

A judge has ordered that the two sides go to a judicial settlement conference, scheduled for December, in hopes the litigation could be ended with mediation.

Gopal, who appeared on “GMA” with his attorney, Areva Martin, says he is “very hopeful” the case will be dismissed and calls it “absolutely untrue” that his son was out of control.

“Our son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, when he was a very young child,” Gopal said. “And ever since then, we’ve been very committed and dedicated parents.”

“We’ve structured our life around him and in helping him develop,” he said. “And we have got him all the gold standard therapies for autism that most parents get their children.”

The boy's mother told ABC News that the allegations have "taken away a lot of hours that we would be supporting him."

“We never imagined that something like this could happen to our family,” said Parul Agrawal. “Every extra day we have to go through this lawsuit, it takes our focus away from helping our child.”

Martin told ABC News the case has bigger implications than for just the Gopal family.

"If this family can’t live in this neighborhood, where can they live?" said Martin, who said she also has a child with autism. "Autism now impacts one in 64 children, so everyone is going to come into contact with someone with autism...and these kids deserve to be able to live freely and without harassment and without the stigma that a lawsuit such as this brings them."