By Jim Smith
SOUTH BOSTON — Residents of the Mary Ellen McCormack housing development are outraged over a decision by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Maria Lopez to sentence an admitted child molester to home confinement at his apartment in this South Boston housing project, where hundreds of families and children reside.
Last Wednesday, Judge Maria Lopez sentenced Charles "Ebony" Horton to five years of probation and one year of house arrest after he admitted to charges of kidnapping, attempted rape of a child, indecent assault, and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Horton, a transexual, was dressed as a woman when he lured a 12-year-old boy into his car in Dorchester last November, threatened him with a screwdriver and attempted to rape him. Police officers arrived at the crime scene just in time to prevent the rape of the boy.
Lopez has come under fire across the state because of the leniency of her sentence and for her televised tongue-lashing of prosecutor David Deakin, who objected to her sentence and wanted Horton sent to prison for eight to 10 years.
During that exchange, Lopez called the assault a "low-level" crime and angrily ordered Deakin to sit down and be quiet. Lopez had earlier prohibited the media from taking any photographs of the defendant’s face.
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Mayor Thomas Menino, in a press release issued Friday, expressed anger over Lopez’s ruling. "Judge Lopez’s decision has left the young people of one of our largest public housing communities in jeopardy," Menino said. "Rather than take appropriate action and incarcerate this convicted felon, Judge Lopez chose to return him to a community full of families with hundreds of young children that is adjacent to one of the largest public parks in the city of Boston."
Under Lopez’s sentence, Horton will wear an ankle bracelet and will be allowed to leave his South Boston apartment to attend church, college classes and transgender counseling sessions during his year of home confinement.
Despite assertions by his defense counsel last week that Horton, who is 22, was remorseful and on his way toward rehabilitation, it was revealed by police last week that he had been arrested for propositioning an undercover officer less than two weeks before last week’s sentencing.
At the request of Menino, the head of the Boston Housing Authority, Sandra Henriquez, wrote to Judge Lopez Friday, criticizing her for her "callous disregard for the residents of our communities."
Last Friday, the BHA began an expedited eviction proceeding against Horton. Two other eviction cases have already begun against him, one for disturbing the peace and one for non-payment of rent.
Echo readers will recall the brouhaha that erupted last summer when the BHA designated shamrocks as "bias indicators" and discouraged residents from displaying the symbols because they reportedly made some tenants uncomfortable.
Terry Farrell, head of the McCormack tenants task force, told the Echo Saturday that shamrocks are now more plentiful in the development than they have ever been and that tenants of all races have been getting along just fine.
"I am worried about the 90-year-old Irish woman that lives in the penthouse above the child molester, and I’ll be checking in on her soon," Farrell said. According to Farrell, that elderly tenant and other residents of Horton’s building have been complaining about the loud noise from his apartment for a long time.
"I hope he’s out of here in a day or two," she said about Horton. "He obviously should be locked up."
Dolly Lowe, who has lived in the McCormack development for over 10 years, said that the hallway to Horton’s building was always "mobbed with teenagers" who she suspects were lured to the apartment by Horton’s wild parties.
"We’re all watching our kids a lot closer now," Lowe said. "I hope they evict him soon, and they should get rid of that judge too."
Lowe said that Lopez reminded her of a lot of people in today’s society "who seem desensitized to what’s going on with our children." She said that Lopez seemed more concerned with the defendant than with the 12-year-old victim.
Last Friday evening, Farrell passed out flyers alerting tenants to the presence of a convicted child molester in their midst. "Please keep an eye on your children and all children in the development," the notices read.
Meanwhile, a public outcry is mounting for the ouster of the judge and a speedy eviction of Horton.