Teenage girls plead guilty to assault

Thursday, April 29, 2004

BALTIMORE -- Two teenage girls admitted Wednesday to ganging up on a 12-year-old girl at a birthday party because a boy kissed her on the cheek, beating her so badly that she spent three weeks in a coma.

The girls, ages 14 and 13, pleaded guilty in juvenile court to two counts of second-degree assault in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and reckless endangerment, said Roland Walker, an attorney for the older defendant. In the Feb. 28 attack, Nicole Townes was pummeled, stomped and scratched until her body went limp.

Authorities believe Nicole suffered brain damage.

Walker said the defendants' ages and their "collateral" role in the attack were taken into account by the state.

Stephen Bergman, a public defender who represented the younger girl, declined to comment as did juvenile court Judge Edward R.K. Hargadon and a spokesman for the city prosecutor's office.

The girls were released to stay with their families, on an electronic monitoring system, until their May 26 sentencing.

Another 13-year-old girl, a 15-year-old and two women were also charged in the assault and police charged a 24-year-old woman who lived with Nicole with child abuse and neglect for leaving the girl at the party.

Police and prosecutors said Nicole's beating began when a boy at the party, acting on a dare, kissed her on the cheek. The mother of the girl celebrating her birthday was apparently offended because the boy was supposed to be her daughter's boyfriend. The mother allegedly urged her daughter to "handle your business," which said meant the girl was supposed to defend the family's honor.

Nicole was attacked by as many as six women and girls, police said. The birthday girl and her 36-year-old mother were among those charged.

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