Friday, January 18, 2002

Teen appeals sex charge

Lawyer says race played role in conviction

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The attorney for a 17-year-old boy found guilty by a Hamilton County Juvenile Court magistrate last month of gross sexual imposition has filed an appeal asking that the magistrate's order be postponed because of racial bias.

        The teen, who is black, was initially accused of raping and abducting a teen-age white girl with whom he worked.

        However, during a December hearing in Juvenile Court, those charges were dismissed when it was determined there was reasonable doubt about the girl's statements.

        The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, was found guilty of fondling the girl without her permission for an incident that happened prior to the accusations of rape and kidnapping.

        Juvenile Magistrate Katherine Watkins ordered the boy to be placed at Hillcrest School, a juvenile detention facility.

        Attorney Kenneth Lawson filed an appeal with the First District Court of Appeals Thursday asking that the punishment be stayed pending the higher court's ruling.

        He contends that race is the impetus for his client's conviction.

        Mr. Lawson said that the gross sexual imposition charge was brought at the behest of the prosecution, rather than the alleged victim, and that the victim is not to be believed.

        He adds that the charge was added about a month after the complaint was originally made. And, he argues that the magistrate, who is white, is sympathetic to the alleged victim.

        Mr. Lawson says his client has no prior criminal history.


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