The 14-year-old girl's letter read, "Dominic did not rape me," but it was not enough to convince a judge to grant convicted rapist Dominic T. Boston a new trial.
Instead, Judge Eugene M. Lerner sentencedthe 23-year-old Annapolis man to seven years in prison during a hearing Friday in county Circuit Court. Denying a new trial, Lerner said that the girl's second thoughts seemed largely due to pressure she felt from the community.
Court records state that the girl, then 13, said that she knew Boston and that he had forced her to have sex with him June 2, 1990, inher Annapolis home. After a jury convicted Boston of second-degree rape March 28, Lerner revoked the defendant's bond and sent him to jail to await sentencing.
But on the eve of Boston's scheduled sentencing in May, the girl wrote a letter saying, "I wish to drop all charges against Dominic Boston." Boston's bond was reinstated, and he wasreleased while prosecutors and defense lawyers attempted to find outjust what the girl meant by the letter.
Prosecutors said the girlwas confused about what constitutes rape when she wrote her letter. Boston's lawyer, William H. Murphy Jr., said the letter raised questions about the conviction and the girl's credibility.
When she tookthe stand Friday, the girl said she wrote the letter at the urging of a friend who suggested some of its lines -- including "I was not raped." The girl said she had been ostracized by friends in her neighborhood after Boston was convicted.
"I felt if I wrote it things would change, things around the community," she told the court. She saidshe still considered herself a friend of Boston's, and she asked thejudge to grant the man probation.
In court Friday, the girl described how Boston followed her into a bedroom in her home, pulled down her pants and had sex with her. Under questioning by Murphy, she saidshe might not have resisted vigorously enough.
In arguing that the jury might have returned a different verdict had it heard this testimony, Murphy said the girl's resistance was a "no" so half-hearted that Boston assumed she had changed her mind and was consenting to thesex.
But when Judge Lerner asked the girl whether she had consented to have sex with Boston, she said no.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen E. Rogers noted that even if the girl had consented, the age difference between the two would make Boston eligible for second-degree rape charges under the definition of statutory rape.
When the sentencing began, Murphy asked the judge to consider granting his client probation because the incident involved no weapons or violence and the girl suffered no lasting physical or emotional harm from the incident.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen E. Rogers called that request "offensive" and asked the judge to sentence Boston to prison.
Boston told the court, "I'm sorry for everything I put everybody through."
Before announcing his sentence, Lerner noted that Boston's record shows 14 arrests, with convictions for assault and disturbing the peace and four cases ending with his receiving probation before judgment. The judge also noted that Boston's position during trial had been that he had not been in the girl's bedroom at all.
Boston hung his head when the judge announced his sentence: 20 years in prison, with all but seven suspended, and five years supervised probation during which he will be required to earn a high school equivalency and undergo treatment for drug abuse.
Responding to Murphy's request that his client be allowed to be free on bond while the case is appealed, Lerner set an appeal bond at $150,000. Murphy said that figure amounted to no bond because Boston's family is poor.
After thehearing, Boston declined comment. His mother said the sentence was unfair and Murphy said he was surprised and disappointed in the judge's sentence.