State rebuked in sentence of young rapist

July 08, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

A Howard County judge delivered a stinging rebuke `f yesterday to the state's handling of a juvenile offender before sentencing the youth to a 15-year prison term for raping a female jogger in a Columbia park in April 1991.

At the time, Antonio Lee Perry, then 15, was on a group outing with a state juvenile offenders program, where he was undergoing court-ordered therapy for prior sexual offenses, including the rape of a 15-year-old girl.

"Mr. Perry has been in the grasp of the state of Maryland since he was 12 years old, and the state's pathetic system has failed to respond even 1 percent to a crying social need," said Circuit Judge James B. Dudley before sentencing Perry.

Judge Dudley criticized what he viewed as the state's failure to protect the community from Perry, who had faced three sexual assault charges since age 12 in juvenile court.

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 at Centennial Park while he and about three dozen other youths from the Thomas O'Farrell Center were there on a weekly field trip on April 26 of last year. Four supervisors chaperoned the youths.

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

"We have a demonstrated, pathetic, dangerous juvenile in state custody, who while in custody commits a more heinous offense," Judge Dudley said.

Jacqueline M. Lampell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Juvenile Services, declined to comment on the judge's remarks.

Judge Dudley said he will request that Patuxent Institution evaluate Perry for acceptance into its program for therapy and treatment.

Perry's public defender, Louis P. Willemin, recommended a five-year sentence at the Howard County Detention Center with a provision allowing the youth to be transported to weekly therapy sessions at a sexual disorders program.

Mr. Willemin said no facility within the Division of Correction offers the appropriate treatment for sexual offenders.

Perry, who was charged as an adult with first-degree rape, pleaded guilty May 13 to second-degree rape. As part of the dTC plea, the state agreed to seek a prison term of no more than 15 years.

Assistant State's Attorney Shirley Ripley argued that Perry had failed to respond to therapy at the O'Farrell center and needed to be incarcerated.

"The first opportunity he got, he committed this hideous offense in broad daylight, in a public park, with many people around," Ms. Ripley said. Perry grabbed the woman from behind and dragged her into the bushes. He punched her twice in the face and had sexual intercourse with her against her will, said Ms. Ripley.

The victim, who now lives in Pennsylvania, plans to file a civil lawsuit next week against the state Department of Juvenile Services and the Thomas O'Farrell Center, said the woman's attorney, Timothy J. McCrone.

Judge Dudley considered the woman's three-page victim impact statement before sentencing Perry.

As a result of the attack at Centennial Park, the Thomas O'Farrell Center revised its field trip policy to provide at least one supervisor for every five students. Since the rape, the center has accepted no sexual offenders into the program and no longer takes field trips to Centennial Park.

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