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Chronicle Exclusive: QU athletes reprieved for urination incident
After appearing in Meriden Superior Court Feb. 16, one of the Quinnipiac basketball players arrested in November for an alleged urination incident was sentenced to special probation.
Trevon Charles, 18, who was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, second-degree unlawful restraint and breach of peace, will spend two years in an Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (AR) before reappearing in criminal court Feb. 13, 2009 to evaluate his progress and determine whether the program was successful.
Charles and James Feldeine, 18, allegedly urinated on the leg of a female first-year student after they forced her into a nearby men’s bathroom in the Dana English Hall, where all three resided.
The State of Connecticut Judicial Branch says on its Web site that AR is any program that gives a person charged for the first time with a crime or motor vehicle violation “a second chance.” The individual is placed on probation for up to two years after which, if the program is completed satisfactorily, all charges are dismissed.
The accuser said she is satisfied with this sentence. “I liked the decision of the program because it comes off their record[s] [after],” she said.
James Papillo, who is the Victim Advocate for the state of Connecticut, said that AR is equivalent to a “free bite of the apple.” He said that AR is often used in serious cases, but that doing so is not necessarily what the legislature intended.
“It’s supposed to be for low-level crimes not involving violence,” Papillo said. “I would consider this violent. I think most people would.”
The accuser said she received a letter from Carmen Sierra, her Victim Advocate in the State Attorney’s office, outlining the terms of Charles’ probation.
The letter said the Charles must do the following while enrolled in Accelerated Rehabilitation: Perform 100 hours of community service, attend “Gender Politics” courses, pay $25 per month in restitution to the battered women’s shelter in Hamden, refrain from committing any criminal acts throughout his probation and refrain from making any unwanted contact with the victim directly or by a third party. “They can’t talk to me,” she said.
According to Nancy McCormack, Lead Probation Officer for Meriden, the conditions of AR are decided upon by the judge and often include community service and restitution to the victim in some amount.
She agrees that the program is only meant for lesser offenses.
“It’s usually the minorist of minor sexual charges that receive AR,” she said.
She also said that she was notified of the players’ applications for AR prior to their court dates and that the state represented her in court.
AR is a way for defendants to avoid trials and to avoid pleading guilty to charges against them, according to the Connecticut Bar Association’s Web site. No admission of guilt is required to enter the program. If completed successfully and if charges are dismissed at the conclusion of the defendant’s probation, all records of the case will “disappear” 20 days later.
The Web site also says that pretrial diversion programs like AR are intended for minor offenses but have been used in cases of rape and motor vehicle fatalities caused by negligence or misconduct.
Since the incident, Quinnipiac has moved Charles and Feldeine from their former residences in Dana English Hall. Still, the accuser feels that the school did not do enough considering the gravity of the incident.
“The school didn’t do anything,” she said. “I thought [the school] would react differently. I think something should have been done.”
A spokesperson at the clerk’s office of Meriden Superior Court had no information regarding the outcome of Feldeine’s case. At press time, Feldeine and Charles declined to comment.
“I know they [said they] were joking,” the victim said. “Maybe they’ll learn from it.”