Booking photo. (ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY POLICE )
The 50-year prison sentence of a Crofton teenager who lured a 7-year-old neighbor from a playground and raped her was cut by more than half Tuesday, and the distraught mother of the victim ran from the courtroom as lawyers argued over her request to bar him from living near her family once he's released.
The new sentence, 20 years, means that David B. Raszewski, now 19, may be eligible for parole consideration before he is 30 — about the same time his victim could get a driver's license. Anne Arundel County prosecutors could not recall so dramatic a reduction in a sentence in the county in at least 10 years.
After the court proceeding Tuesday, the victim's devastated mother, who has shielded her daughter from the criminal case, said that, in less than a decade, "I have to reiterate all of this to her so she can watch her own back."
The victim's relatives are not being named because The Baltimore Sun does not identify sexual assault victims.
"What were you thinking? Would you want him right next to you?" the mother said she would ask the judges.
Her daughter, she said, has asked if the "bad man" will come get her again. Sometimes, the child stares in silence. She's not comfortable with lights out, won't go places without her brother and clings to her mother and stepfather. "The next child may not get away from him," the child's stepfather said.
In a crime that stunned the Crofton community, Raszewski admitted that on March 20, 2009, he watched pornography and later lured the child to his house and raped her in his bedroom. He then apologized, handed her a few dollars and freed her.
The shorter sentence was imposed Tuesday by a panel of three Anne Arundel County judges. In their 27-page opinion filed Friday, the judges called the crime "vicious and heinous" but noted that Raszewski was young, had no criminal past and was diagnosed after his arrest with "atypical autism."
They wrote that the 50-year sentence — double the maximum under state sentencing guidelines — was too harsh.
Once released from prison and on probation, he must receive therapy and psychiatric care, and have no contact with the victim. He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and could be sentenced to up to another 30 years in prison for violating probation.
The victim's mother asked that he also be banned from living in the same community as her daughter.
Yelling "I cannot deal with this!" the victim's mother left the courtroom as the request, relayed by prosecutor Sandra Howell, was met with questions from Judge Ronald A. Silkworth, who chaired the three-judge panel, and defense lawyer Spencer Gordon. Whether and how to accomplish that request will be decided later by the panel.
Gordon praised the judges for what he said would be an unpopular decision in the community. It would ensure that the former South River High School student, who he said had trouble relating to people, receives treatment for autism.
"Autism, it's not his defense, it's his mitigation," Gordon said.
The judicial panel, which included Paul F. Harris Jr. and Pamela L. North, wrote that experts who evaluated Raszewski said he knew what he did was wrong, but he did not understand the emotional trauma. His "autism, coupled with his exposure to pornography, likely led him to have a fantastical view of sexuality," they wrote. They also noted that the experts said that, without treatment, Raszewski's risk of committing another crime was high.