Two women accused of yelling racist slurs at a woman and her daughter and assaulting them in East Boston's Maverick Square neighborhood last month faced a judge Monday morning.
Jenny Leigh Ennamorati and Stephanie Armstrong, both 25, have been charged with assault and battery and two counts of violating constitutional rights. Ennamorati is also charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of both women.
The charges stem from an alleged attack on a 46-year-old mother and her 15-year-old daughter while they were speaking Spanish near the Maverick Square MBTA station on the evening of Feb. 15.
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In East Boston District Court, prosecutors said Ennamorati and Armstrong told the victims, "in America we speak English," and "go back to your (blank) country" while they were talking amongst themselves.
The victims and witnesses allege that the attack occurred without provocation. The entire incident was captured on surveillance video.
The mother, who identified herself only as Ms. Vasquez, held a press conference last month to call on police to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
“My daughter and I were attacked, punched, kicked, and bitten by two white women,” she said. “As they beat us, they yelled 'This is America! Speak English!'"
The Suffolk County District Attorney's office said they plan to fight hard to hold both suspects accountable.
"You don't go from zero to hate crime and be able to say, 'we've never done it before,'" Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said.
Patricia Montes, executive director of an East Boston group fighting for Latino rights, says this kind of violence is more commonplace.
"We received four phone calls last year of cases of people that were attacked. But they are afraid because they are undocumented," Montes said.
Outside of court, Ennamorati and Armstrong's attorneys said there was only an altercation and that their clients are innocent.
"It is very upsetting to her. She's 25 years old, no record, a gay woman. She's out and proud. She's an advocate for all people like her. This is very upsetting to her. No history of her doing anything like this," said William Barabino, attorney for Armstrong.
"It's an altercation. That's all it is here. You got one side saying as far as words and the other side will deny that," added Paul Anthony, attorney for Ennamorati.
Ennamorati and Armstrong were released on personal recognizance with conditions they stay away from the victims. They are both due back in court on April 28.