Charges against Dale Lawton, Renard James, Dante Green, and Howard Smith-Cook were dropped and the men were released from jail Aug. 10. According to officials with the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, the release took place the morning of their scheduled pre-trial hearing. They four Baltimore men accused of rape and arrested July 19 on charges of sex offense, assault and perverted practice.

“Prosecutors and detectives from the police sex offense unit continued the investigation after it was initially charged and we reviewed all of the witness statements and all of the evidence and after a careful and thorough review we determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to proceed with this case either at the preliminary hearing or to take it to a grand jury,” said Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman from the state’s attorney’s office.

Sviatko said the witness did not recant her statement but that inconsistencies in the totality of the evidence led prosecutors to decide to drop all charges against the men. “There was not enough proof to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the incident as described took place,” he said.

William R. Buie III, defense attorney for Dale Lawton, said text messages obtained by prosecutors implied that the sexual contact between Lawton and the alleged victim was consensual. He also said there was no sexual contact between the alleged victim and his client prior to the incident on June 30.

Buie said Lawton and two of his co-defendants, Dante Green and Howard Smith-Cook, were attacked and beaten by other inmates while awaiting transportation from their holding cell to District Court on Aug. 10. “They were being called rapists while they were being beaten,” he said. “He explained to me that it was not significant in terms of the visible wounds, but the other two gentlemen received the brunt of the attack.”

Dante Green’s attorney Catherine Flynn said her client lost his job because of the ordeal and wants his record expunged. “He’s hoping to get his life back; it was quite an interruption. He was locked up for 30 days and put his academic career at risk, but I think he’s hoping to get this behind him and move on,” Flynn said.

Buie said Lawton has not decided whether to pursue legal action, but he is very interested in moving on with his life, returning to school and the Morgan State University band in the fall.

 

Melissa Jones

Special to the AFRO