Teen pleads guilty to park jogger's rape State to seek 15-year sentence for 1991 assault in Centennial Park

May 17, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

A 16-year-old youth pleaded guilty Wednesday to raping a woman at a Howard County park while he was on a group outing with a state juvenile offenders program.

Antonio Lee Perry, who had faced three other sexual assault charges since age 12, was undergoing court-ordered therapy at the Thomas O'Farrell Center in Marriottsville when he raped a jogger at Centennial Park in Columbia in April 1991.

Perry, who was charged as an adult with first-degree rape, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape. As part of the plea agreement, the state will seek a 15-year prison term at Perry's July 7 sentencing before Howard County Circuit Judge James B. Dudley. Second-degree rape carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

In exchange for the plea, the state dropped charges of first-degree rape, sex offenses, assault and battery against Perry, who could have faced a life sentence.

Louis P. Willemin, Perry's public defender, said he plans to argue that his client receive therapy as part of his sentence.

Perry, of Capitol Heights, had been charged as a juvenile with raping a 15-year-old girl in Prince George's County when he was 14.

He also was charged with two other sexual assaults in that county when he was 12, according to court records.

Perry attacked the 27-year-old woman while he and about three dozen other youths from the Thomas O'Farrell Center were on a weekly field trip to the park on April 26 last year. Four supervisors from the center chaperoned the youths.

The O'Farrell Center is state-owned but privately run by the Massachusetts-based North American Family Institute.

Perry grabbed the woman from behind and dragged her into the bushes. The woman screamed for help and Perry punched her twice in the face and told her to shut up, said Assistant State's Attorney Shirley Ripley in a statement read to the court.

He then had sexual intercourse with the woman against her will.

Ripley said that several witnesses saw Perry run from the woods to a van in the park's parking lot.

Tests showed that enzymes from a blood sample taken from Perry matched the enzymes in semen recovered from the victim's running shorts, Ripley said.

The woman, who now lives in Pennsylvania, endorsed the plea agreement, said her lawyer Timothy J. McCrone.

As a result of the attack, the Thomas O'Farrell Center has revised its field trip policy to provide at least one supervisor for every five students. Since the incident, however, the center no longer takes field trips to Centennial Park, said Jacqueline M. Lampell director of community outreach for the state Department of Juvenile Services.

The department's ban on accepting sex offenders into the O'Farrell program, which has been in place since Perry's arrest, is still in effect, Lampell said.

Following the attack, state juvenile officials required the 145 other private state contractors running juvenile programs to file their field trip policies with the state. This practice was not part of the department's guidelines prior to the rape, Lampell said.

A review of the field trip policies indicated that they were adequate, she said.

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