BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts woman accused of assaulting a mother and daughter in 2020 because they spoke Spanish has been found guilty of assault and assault.
Stephanie Armstrong was sentenced Thursday to two years’ probation after a two-day trial without a jury in Boston Municipal Court in the Latino-majority East Boston neighborhood where the attack took place.
Prosecutors say Armstrong and another woman attacked a mother and her teenage daughter outside a subway station because they thought the two were making fun of them in Spanish.
Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden, whose office was prosecuting the case, said he was pleased that Armstrong had been convicted of assault but found it “terribly disappointing” that she wasn’t also convicted of civil rights violations, which is the other charge was the couple faced.
“This unforgivable attack has exposed an ugly side of our society that my office – and I hope every caring citizen – will never tolerate,” Hayden said in a statement.
Armstrong’s attorney, William Barabino, said his client is a member of the LGBTQ community and would “never do anything to interfere with the civil rights of others, and the acquittal for both civil rights violations confirms that.”
Her co-defendant, Jenny Leigh Ennamorati, was given a 15-month suspended sentence in February after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors. Her attorney did not respond to an email asking for comment on Friday.
Civil Rights Attorneys, an organization representing victims, said the sentences imposed were too “loose” and the defendants could have faced jail time.
The group said the trial “retraumatized” Sara Vasquez and her daughter, who was 15 at the time of the attack, and discouraged other hate crime victims from coming forward.
“By failing to meaningfully convict the attackers, the legal system exacerbates racism and bigotry,” the organization said in a statement. “Each individual should be free to move about in their communities and speak their native language without fear of violence.”
Vasquez said she and her daughter were walking home from dinner when Armstrong and Ennamorati attacked them for no reason.
Vasquez said the women, who were both 25-year-old residents of nearby Revere, Massachusetts at the time, shouted, “This is America,” and urged them to “speak English” and “return to your (obscene) country.” “. as they hit, kicked and bit her.
Civil rights groups said at the time the attack, which was caught on surveillance video, highlighted “racism and xenophobia” growing in East Boston as the neighborhood experienced a demographic shift amid a construction boom.
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