Suspect should be tried as juvenile

Psychologists from both sides have recommended that a teenage boy charged with luring a 7-year-old girl off a playground and raping her inside his Crofton townhouse be tried as a juvenile.

The recommendations came despite one of the psychologists testifying Wednesday, during the first day of the two-day hearing, that there was a "high risk" that David Benjamin Raszewski, 17, of Granite Court, would attack another girl.

The doctors said the juvenile system would simply offer a better chance of rehabilitating the teen.

The hearing is expected to resume Tuesday in county Circuit Court in Annapolis, with defense attorney James Crowford Jr. arguing his case for the juvenile system and Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Howell making her final push for adult court.

Circuit Court Judge Philip T. Caroom is expected to make the final decision at that time.

Raszewski, a junior at South River High School, is charged as an adult with first-degree rape in a March 20 attack on the girl who was playing behind his house. He is being held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center.

If convicted in adult court, he faces up to life in prison. If found delinquent in juvenile court, he can be held until he is 21 at a juvenile facility.

Raszewski is one of two Crofton teens charged in high-profile crimes now trying to have their cases tried in juvenile court.

Javel George, 16, is charged as an adult with manslaughter in the May 30 death of Christopher Jones. A waiver hearing is scheduled Oct. 9 and a trial is scheduled Oct. 15.

According to charging documents, Raszewski confessed to police that he approached the girl just before 4 p.m., after the child's baby sitter had left the playground to take the girl's younger brother to use the bathroom.

He told police he asked the girl to come inside his home while his own mother was out. He led the child upstairs, pushed her into his bedroom and molested her, police said.

Howell said yesterday that Raszewski approached the girl for the sole purpose of sex, that the child cried during the attack and that he knew what he did was wrong.

"I think I practically destroyed this girl for the rest of her life," Raszewski told police, according to Howell.

New details

The hearing, attended by several members of the families of both Raszewski and the victim, revealed new details about the teen and his life.

Dr. Teresa Grant, the psychologists hired by the state, testified that doctors at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore evaluated Raszewski as a child and wanted to diagnose him with autism. She said Raszewski's mother rejected that diagnosis because of the stigma associated with the disorder.

Grant and Dr. Michael Hendricks, the defense expert, both said Raszewski had an unspecified "autism-spectrum disorder." They also said he appeared to be of at least average intelligence, if not high-average.

Raszewski has had at least one girlfriend -- who was two years older than him -- and is addicted to pornography, Grant said. She added that after the rape, Raszewski played poker with his mother as if nothing had happened.

Grant said Raszewski moved around a lot growing up, spending several years in Hawaii before his parents divorced and moved to Maryland. He did not have any alcohol or drug problems as far as she could tell and did not suffer from any conduct disorders, she said.

Howell noted that Raszewski had a lot of trouble learning in school, holding up a binder full of "individual education programs" developed for Raszewski over the years.

Grant said she believed there was a "high risk" that Raszewski would re-offend, but she still recommended the case be handled in juvenile court. She said the juvenile system would offer more intensive treatment and that with that help he would be less likely to harm anyone else.

"He needs very specific sex-offender treatment," Grant said, arguing he be placed in a secure noncommunity juvenile facility.

Hendricks agreed that Raszewski needed "focused treatment," but said he could receive that treatment almost anywhere -- including home. He told the court that with treatment in the juvenile system, there was a "90 percent" chance Raszewski would not offend again.

"He really wants to do something to be better," Hendricks said.