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Teen sentenced for house party sexual assault

 

Leonardtown, MD -- A former Mechanicsville resident has been sentenced to time already served for a conviction of second-degree sex offense. John Luke Cassini, 19, was sentenced May 29 in St. Mary’s County Circuit Court by Judge Karen Abrams. Cassini (shown), who now lives in Mount Airy, MD, had served eight months in jail before being released on bond. He will be on five years’ probation.

Judge Abrams found Cassini guilty of the second-degree sex offense charge but not guilty of second-degree rape after a court trial in January, 2015. The charges stem from a party at a home in Mechanicsville in January 2014 at which there was heavy drinking and marijuana use going on, according to witnesses at the trial.

Cassini, according to his own testimony, fondled the victim in a bedroom while she was passed out. According to another witness at the trial, the victim woke up and Cassini was on top of her with his pants down. The witness said her friend started yelling for help and “rape.”

During the sentencing hearing Assistant State’s Attorney Julie White read an impact statement from the victim saying she believed the incident would stay with her for the rest of her life. She said it was hard not to blame herself. She said she wonders, “If I was sober it might not have happened.”

Although Cassini did not testify during the trial, he told a detective that he thought the girl had indicated an interest in him during an earlier encounter at the party. That statement was played during the trial.

Cassini’s attorney, Brian Thompson from a Baltimore law firm, told Judge Abrams that his client had virtually no criminal record and that being tagged a sex offender for life would seriously impact his ability to secure meaningful employment.

Thompson reminded the judge that the incident occurred at a party with heavy drinking and drug use. “He was an 18-year-old boy who made a terrible mistake." Thompson said a lengthy incarceration and being labeled a sex offender “would be a penalty far, far too harsh.”

Cassini, in addressing the court, said, “First I want to tell [the victim] I am very sorry. I considered her my friend. I never intended to harm her.”

Judge Abrams observed, “This is a very difficult case for everyone.” She said she was surprised in seeing the guidelines for the offense that five years was at the lower end. She said cases such as the one before her have become “high profile” because of incidents on campuses.

In addressing the victim, the judge said, “It wasn’t your fault but it is certainly a lesson that you need to control yourself.”

In addressing Cassini, she said that his behavior was that of a “jerk,” but also that five years in jail wasn’t consistent just for being a jerk. She did note that she had received no letters of support for Cassini saying what a great guy he was.

Thompson, in his recommendation to the court, asked probation before judgement for his client. Judge Abrams said she would not rule that out in the future after he had concluded his time on probation. Thompson told Cassini he would file a motion in that regard so that he wouldn’t have the sex offender label following him for the rest of his life.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com

 

 

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