Man, 38, sentenced for assaults on 3 girls

Rape charges dropped

jail time set at one year

October 09, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

While maintaining his innocence, a 38-year-old auto mechanic pleaded guilty yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to assaulting three teen-age girls, agreeing to the plea after prosecutors' rape charges against him fizzled.

Melvin Rio Robinson of the 600 block of Resty Lane in Odenton entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict him.

He entered the plea to three charges of misdemeanor assault "for the benefit of the bargain," said his lawyer, John H. Robinson III, noting his client faced substantial prison time if convicted of the rape charges.

That arrangement sets jail time at one year, although Robinson will get out shortly because he has been jailed since his arrest April 2 and has accumulated good-behavior credits.

Police charged Robinson with one count of first-degree rape, two counts of second-degree rape and related charges after girls who were ages 14 and 15 accused him of sexually assaulting them at Patuxent Ponds Park and at his apartment. They claimed he was giving them alcohol and drugs between fall of last year and spring.

A third girl told police that Robinson had raped her at a Laurel motel after her boyfriend robbed Robinson of drugs in a soured drug deal, said Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Foy Howell.

The third girl recanted her testimony in August, saying Robinson hit her but did not rape her. The other two had "a lifestyle that included a lot of consumption of drugs and alcohol. That makes the cases incredibly difficult" to put before a jury, Howell said. Also, there was little cooperation with authorities, she said. None of the girls attended the hearing.

"I would say that the state would have severe credibility problems," John Robinson said.

He noted that his client had been held without bail on the basis of a first-degree rape allegation by the teen-ager who said she was raped at the motel but then changed her story. Although the defendant later was given a $150,000 bond, he chose not to post it.

"She lied to the police. Are the police going to go after her?" the lawyer asked.

A police spokesman said police or prosecutors sometimes charge people with making false statements but did not know what would happen in this case.

Judge Joseph P. Manck sentenced Robinson to five years, then suspended all but one year. He also ordered five years of probation.

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