A woman accused of assaulting a mother and daughter because they spoke Spanish on a street in Boston was sentenced on Thursday to two years probation.
Stephanie Armstrong was found guilty on charges of assault and abuse, but not of civil rights violations, NBC 10 reported.
The case, which stems from an incident in February 2020, has attracted national attention.
Earlier this year, civil rights organizations publicly condemned what they said was an excessively lenient sentence imposed on another woman accused of assaulting a mother and her teenage daughter. That woman, Jenny Leigh Ennamorati, entered into a plea agreement in February for a 15-month suspended sentence. Prosecutors first sought a two-year suspended sentence, Boston Globe reported.
Armstrong, another woman charged with assault, took the case to trial.
The incident happened on February 15, 2020, when Sara Vasquez and her then 15-year-old daughter were walking down Maverick Square in East Boston. Vasquez testified this week that the two went home after a birthday dinner and that they spoke in Spanish, CBS Boston reported. The two white women started following them and shouting phrases like “Go back to your country” and “this country speaks English”.
The conflict then became physical. Vasquez testified that Armstrong and Ennamorati started hitting and pulling her hair, resulting in injuries to her neck, face and arms.
The incident was recorded on surveillance footage, which shows a woman running across the street to hit Vasquez, who then retaliated.
Armstrong faced four charges of assault and civil rights violations.
After Armstrong’s verdict, Vasquez said she was “disappointed because they worked on it for two years and I think it ended in nothing,” NBC 10 reports.
Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden also gave his opinion on the outcome of the trial.
“I am terribly disappointed that she was also not convicted of violating their civil rights. “This unforgivable attack has exposed the ugly side of our society that my office – and I hope every caring citizen – will never tolerate,” he said in a statement.
Armstrong’s lawyer said that Ennamorati was the one who started shouting at the mother and daughter that night, and that Ennamorati was the one who initiated the physical conflict, WCVB reports. Armstrong claims she got involved in an attempt to end the quarrel.
Both Vasquez and her daughter testified earlier this year about the impact of this quarrel on them.
“Because of this attack, I am restrained, shy and afraid of making new friends. I am afraid that they will be able to hear my accent and harass me, “the daughter said in a statement Globe.
Ennamorati’s verdict in February provoked a sharp response from civil rights lawyers, an organization that supports victims.
“The court confronted racism and intolerance with leniency and tolerance,” the group said in a statement at the time.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, a spokesman for the Civil Rights Attorney, said Thursday that the court should have sentenced Armstrong to prison, according to NBC 10.
“Particularly disappointing was the clear reluctance to impose a prison sentence. Although the court indicated that six months of detention in a correctional facility might be appropriate for the underlying offense, the court suspended any such imprisonment. It is a shame that at the end of a two-day trial that retraumatized the victims, the perpetrator of the hate crime leaves only with a suspended sentence, ”he said in a statement.
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