Deal approved in Milton Academy sex case
Note: This story was published in the June 2, 2005 edition of The Boston Globe.
QUINCY — Five former Milton Academy students charged with statutory rape must undergo counseling, complete 100 hours of community service, and serve at least two years of probation for their alleged roles in an oral sex session with a 15-year-old sophomore girl in a boys' locker room at the prestigious academy.
Quincy District Court Judge Mark S. Coven approved a deal yesterday allowing 18-year-old Pasko Skarica, 17-year-old Alex Casiano, and 17-year-old Jay Driscoll to delay trial on the rape charges until May 2007, at which time the charges will be dismissed and their records cleared if they don't get into any more trouble. The teenagers pleaded not guilty, but agreed to serve pretrial probation.
Two 16-year-old boys charged as juveniles secured the same deal in a separate closed court session, but the probation will last until their 18th birthdays, according to Milton Academy officials.
The parents of the 15-year-old girl sat quietly, almost without expression, in the front row of the courtroom as Skarica, Casiano, and Driscoll read letters of apology they had written, also part of the agreement.
"Not a day has passed since the incident that I don't wish I had shown more respect for you, myself, and every one involved," said Driscoll, head bowed as he read. "I understand that by taking part I put myself in a very dangerous situation with consequences none of us had dreamed of."
Skarica spoke next. "Every day I am sorry, so sorry, for what happened," he said. "And every day I think of how hurt you must be and how upset your family must be. More than anything in the world I wish that I could turn back the clock. . . . All I can do at this point is truly and sincerely apologize for my actions and wish you happiness."
The resolution of the cases was a relief to officials at the academy, which has been under intense scrutiny since it expelled the boys in February and notified police that three oral-sex sessions had occurred on campus.
A school investigation concluded that two of the varsity ice hockey players charged and a 15-year-old boy received oral sex from the girl in a dorm room on Jan. 22 and in the boys' locker room Jan. 23. Charges were brought in only the third incident, on Jan. 24, when the two hockey players, joined by three teammates, allegedly requested and received oral sex from the girl in the locker room between dining and study halls.
"This situation has been difficult and painful," said a statement issued by Robin Robertson, head of school. "We at Milton Academy are relieved that all parties have achieved a resolution."
But the 15-year-old girl's uncle, who is also a lawyer, said in court that the family wasn't happy with the deal. Speaking on behalf of the family, he told the judge he believed the state was "trivializing the seriousness" of the incidents and called for fuller apologies that include a "clear statement of wrongdoing."
Before approving the pretrial probation order, Coven ordered the boys to apologize again, and each stepped forward, turned to face the girl's family, and said, "I apologize."
The girl, who is back attending classes at Milton Academy, did not attend the court proceedings. Her parents left the courthouse without comment. It is Globe policy not to identify victims of alleged sexual abuse without their consent or minors charged as juveniles.
Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and criminal defense lawyer whose daughter attends Milton Academy, said in a telephone interview yesterday that the pretrial probation agreements were the best the boys could have hoped for under the circumstances, but he criticized the state for prosecuting the charges.
"This represents the most senseless use of prosecutorial discretion I've seen in a long time," Dershowitz said.
Under state law, the girl also could have been charged with statutory rape for performing oral sex on the 15-year-old boy, said Dershowitz. It is unlawful in Massachusetts to have sex with anyone under 16, but state law lets prosecutors decide whether to press charges.
"The idea that these youngsters should be branded rapists and the girl should be labeled a victim is preposterous," he said.
Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating, whose office prosecuted the cases and agreed to yesterday's deal, lashed out at Dershowitz for commenting on a case in which he had not seen the evidence.
"That is a lack of professionalism," he said.
While he would not elaborate on the evidence, Keating said there was "a reason to move forward in prosecution."
"The victim in this instance wanted responsibility addressed, and the victim is satisfied in that regard," he said.
Dershowitz called yesterday for a complete overhaul of rape laws in Massachusetts, including lowering the age of consent "considerably" and adding conditions that would prevent charges in cases in which those involved are close in age. In about half the states, prosecutors can bring criminal cases only when a defendant is several years older than the victim.
"Massachusetts is known throughout the country as having some of the worst rape laws," he said. "The laws of statutory rape are so twisted and convoluted and completely fail to reflect the reality of adolescent sexuality."
The highly publicized Milton case has sparked a debate over teenage sexuality, including teenagers' attitudes about oral sex and the role of popular culture in those attitudes.