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Woman accused of assaulting mother and daughter for speaking Spanish sentenced to probation

Stephanie Armstrong was found guilty on charges of assault and battery, but not of civil rights violations.

Stephanie Armstrong in court earlier this year. She was sentenced Thursday to two years probation. Aram Boghosian/The Boston Globe

A woman accused of assaulting a mother and daughter for speaking Spanish on a Boston street was sentenced Thursday to two years probation. 

Stephanie Armstrong was found guilty on charges of assault and battery, but not of civil rights violations, NBC 10 reported

The case, which stems from an incident in February 2020, has drawn national attention.

Earlier this year, civil rights organizations publicly decried what they said was an overly lenient sentence given to another woman accused of assaulting the mother and her teenage daughter. That woman, Jenny Leigh Ennamorati, struck a plea deal in February for 15 months probation. Prosecutors first sought two years probation, The Boston Globe reported

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Armstrong, the other woman charged with assault, took the case to trial.

The incident occurred on Feb. 15, 2020, when Sara Vasquez and her then 15-year-old daughter were walking in Maverick Square in East Boston. Vasquez testified this week that the two were heading home after a birthday dinner and were chatting in Spanish, CBS Boston reported. Two white women began following them and yelling phrases like “Go back to your country,” and “this country speaks English.”

The confrontation then turned physical. Vasquez testified that Armstrong and Ennamorati started hitting her and pulling her hair, resulting in injuries to her neck, face, and hand. 

The incident was captured on surveillance video, which shows one woman rushing across the street to hit Vasquez, who then punches back.

Armstrong faced four charges for assault and civil rights violations. 

After Armstrong’s sentencing, Vasquez said she was “disappointed, because they have been working on this for two years and I think it ended in nothing,” according to NBC 10. 

Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden also voiced his opinion on the trial’s result.

“I find it terribly disappointing that she wasn’t also convicted of violating their civil rights. This unforgivable assault exposed an ugly side of our society that my office—and I hope every caring citizen—will never tolerate,” he wrote in a statement. 

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Armstrong’s attorney said that Ennamorati was the one who began yelling at the mother and daughter that night, and that it was Ennamorati who initiated the physical altercation, according to WCVB. Armstrong maintains that she got involved in an effort to break up the fight. 

Both Vasquez and her daughter testified earlier this year about the impact this altercation has had on them. 

“Because of this attack, I am reserved, shy, and scared of making new friends. I am afraid that they will be able to hear my accent and bully me,” the daughter’s impact statement said, according to the Globe

Ennamorati’s sentence in February elicited a sharp response from Lawyers for Civil Rights, an organization supporting the victims. 

“The court met racism and bigotry with leniency and tolerance,” the group said in a statement at the time. 

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, a representative of Lawyers for Civil Rights said Thursday that the court should have sentenced Armstrong to jail time, according to NBC 10. 

“Particularly disappointing was the clear reluctance to impose jail time. Although the court indicated that six months of confinement in a house of corrections may be appropriate for the underlying offense, the court suspended any such jail sentence. It is shameful that at the end of a two-day trial that retraumatized the victims, the hate crime perpetrator is walking away with only probation,” he said in a statement.

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