A judge on Thursday afternoon found a woman accused of berating and assaulting a woman and her teenage daughter on a Boston street two years ago because they were speaking Spanish guilty of the assault, but not of violating civil rights, a decision some feel isn't a strong enough punishment.
Stephanie Armstrong was the second person to be sentenced for the February 15, 2020 attack in East Boston, as the victims were leaving the Maverick Square train station. A judge found Armstrong guilty only on the charges of battery and assault, for which she will have to spend two years on probation. She was not found guilty of the civil rights violations.
The victims were in court Thursday listening to the verdict. They and their attorney said the decision was a disappointment.
“Disappointed, because they have been working on this for two years and I think it ended in nothing," victim Sara Vásquez said in Spanish.
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Armstrong's friend, Jenny Ennamorati, was previously sentenced to 15 months probation in the case, a sentence that drew criticism for being too lenient, according to some civil rights advocates.
The victims said that during the unprovoked 2020 attack the two women yelled racist remarks like, "this is America," and "you have to speak English." The friends 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.
Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden weighed in on the verdict Thursday evening.
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"I find it terribly disappointing that she wasn’t also convicted of violating their civil rights. This unforgivable assault exposed an ugly side of our society that my office—and I hope every caring citizen—will never tolerate," he wrote in a media statement.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights also reacted to the final decision in the case, which has drawn national attention.
"Particularly disappointing was the clear reluctance to impose jail time. Although the court indicated that six months of confinement in a house of corrections may be appropriate for the underlying offense, the court suspended any such jail sentence. It is shameful that at the end of a two-day trial that retraumatized the victims, the hate crime perpetrator is walking away with only probation," he wrote.