The attorney for a Springfield Gardens teen who was arrested in connection with two violent attempted rapes says the police have got the wrong man. There have been at least five sex attacks in Southeast Queens over the last month.
In addition to proclaiming his client’s innocence, he successfully argued that the youth should be tried in Family Court rather than Criminal Court because of his age. The Queens District Attorney’s Office initially opposed the idea, citing the brutality of the attacks, but later agreed.
“The acts may have been violent, but my view is that my client did not have anything to do with the crimes,” said Roger Archibald, the teen’s lawyer. “We are preparing to file a motion to have the case heard in Family Court. This will be vigorously opposed by the DA and the people, and a judge will have to make a decision.”
Last Friday, a Queens Criminal Court judge agreed with Archibald’s assessment and the prosecutors conceded, so the case will be tried in Family Court.
“After a thorough review of the law and the facts, and after consulting with our colleagues at the corporation counsel, we determined that this case would best be prosecuted in Family Court,” Merris Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Queens DA, said Monday.
Archibald, a Brooklyn-based attorney, said he plans to make a motion to suppress any and all statements that the youth gave to the police, because he says the teen’s parents were not present and the boy did not wave his Miranda rights “intelligently, knowingly and voluntarily,” a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The teen, whom Archibald said has no prior criminal history, is being held on $150,000 bail, but he would not say where the boy is being detained.
The defendant allegedly attacked a 40-year-old woman behind a building at 227-13 145 Road in Jamaica on Oct. 9 at around 1:15 a.m., according to the NYPD. He is accused of throwing her to the ground, beating her, pulling her pants down, putting his finger inside her and attempting to have sex with her. The teen allegedly fled when another resident heard the woman’s cries for help and intervened.
The victim suffered severe bruising to her eyes, lacerations to the inside of her mouth, a nasal fracture which required surgery, a laceration to her cheek requiring stitches, severe abrasions to both her knees requiring debridement, as well as contusions, and pain and swelling to the rear of her head, according to the Queens DA.
He is also charged with approaching a 24-year-old woman from behind on Oct. 16 at around 7:15 p.m. in Laurelton, allegedly placing her in a headlock and punching her repeatedly until she fell to the ground and lost consciousness. In addition, he is accused of scratching at the victim’s legs and trying to remove her girdle.
The woman suffered a lacerated lip, lacerations to the inside of her mouth, bruising, swelling and pain to her face and bruising and contusions to the rear of her head, the Queens DA said.
“He must be troubled in some way that caused him to do that,” the Rev. Charles Norris of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Jamaica, who has been a leader in the fight against youth crime, said of the boy. “He obviously has major problems that have to be dealt with before he goes to court. Jail is not going to help him. They need to find out if he is psychologically damaged and do what they can to help him.”
Ann Jawin, founder of the Queens-based Center for the Women of New York, said she was “horrified,” when she heard the news of the recent sex attacks, but agreed with Norris that the teen should be tried in Family Court.
“I think he is extremely disturbed and deranged, but the law shouldn’t be changed because the crimes are horrific,” she said. “In this case if they think he should be tried in Family Court then they must have good reason. I still think he will still receive severe punishment.”
The law does allow for 15-year-old defendants to be tried as adults, and crime victims advocate Shawn Williams, a resident of LeFrak City and the mother of three daughters expressed a dissenting point of view.
“The punishment should be in accordance with the severity of the crime, and if he beat those women bloody, he should be tried in Criminal Court not Family Court,” she said.
Asked whether she thinks, as some community members have stated, that prison time could make the youth more violent than ever, Williams stated “That’s the chance we have to take. The law is the law. You do the crime. You do the time. It’s as simple as that.”
The teen was initially charged with second-degree assault as a sexually motivated felony, attempted rape and first-degree sexual abuse. Tried in Criminal Court as a juvenile offender, he would have faced two and two-thirds to eight years in prison if convicted. But the sentence may be less in Family Court.
“The defendant is accused of prowling the streets and preying on vulnerable women,” Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement. “The offenses that the defendant is accused of committing are crimes of violence that posed a serious threat to public safety and which warrant vigorous prosecution.”