The sentence handed to a Massachusetts woman charged with berating and assaulting a woman and her teenage daughter on a Boston street two years ago because they were speaking Spanish is much too lenient, according to a civil rights group.
Jenny Leigh Ennamorati admitted to sufficient facts to five charges last week in connection with the February 2020 incident, and a judge in East Boston Municipal Court continued the case without a finding for a 15-month probationary period. That means the charges could be dismissed if Ennamorati complies with the conditions of probation, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday.
Prosecutors had sought guilty findings on two counts of assault and battery, two counts of violating another person’s civil rights, and one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and a sentence of two years of probation.
Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is providing legal aid to the victims and had wanted a more severe sentence that included community service, said in a statement Wednesday that “the court met racism and bigotry with leniency and tolerance.”
“The court’s failure to impose meaningful community service underscores how far the judicial system still has to go in appropriately handling hate crimes at a time when racial tensions are at an all time high,” Lawyers for Civil Rights attorney Myraida Melendez said.
The case was resolved through what’s called a “disparate plea,” the district attorney’s office said. Rather than a plea deal, when the prosecution and defense come to an agreement, each side made its own recommendation and the judge came to his own decision.
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“The violent actions and hateful and racist behavior this individual admitted to have no place in our society. My office has been in close contact with the victims in this case and will continue to provide support to them and to the East Boston community,” District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement.
According to prosecutors, Ennamorati and another woman shouted, “This is America,” and told the victims to “speak English” and “go back to your (obscenity) country” as they punched, kicked and bit them in the city’s largely Latino East Boston neighborhood on Feb. 15, 2020.
The victims, who were 46 and 15 at the time and have been identified only by their last name, Vasquez, said they were attacked unprovoked while heading home from a dinner to celebrate the mother’s birthday.
The suspects thought the mother and daughter were making fun of them in Spanish, according to a redacted police report. They also acknowledged they had been drinking, police said.
The victims in impact statements said the attack has had a profound effect on them.
“Because of this attack, I am reserved, shy, and scared of making new friends. I am afraid that they will be able to hear my accent and bully me,” the daughter said.
The mother said since the attack, she and her daughter “have avoided speaking Spanish in public because we fear being targeted.”
Charges against the other suspect are pending.