Blake Richards, guilty of lewdness, acquitted of assault
Blake Richards, a computer technician formerly of Vineyard Haven, was sentenced to 60 days in jail after a jury convicted him of open lewdness at the conclusion of a trial Friday in Dukes County district court. The jury acquitted Mr. Richards on a charge of indecent assault and battery.
Mr. Richards was arrested March 21, 2007 after a woman told police that he exposed himself in her office during a repair call.
Mr. Richards took the witness stand in his own defense Friday, and testified he had a lengthy and explicit conversation about a variety of sexual subjects with the woman during the repair call. He testified that he exposed himself, but denied touching her, as outlined in the assault and battery charge.
In his closing statement, defense attorney John Boyle highlighted the conflicting testimony from Mr. Richards, and from the victim, who testified a day earlier. He questioned her actions during and after the incident.
"She could have left any time she wanted," Mr. Boyle told the jury. "Why did she wait five days to go to the police?"
In her closing statement, assistant district attorney Laura Marshard hammered at the credibility of Mr. Blake. "Give close scrutiny to the testimony of these two people," she said. "This woman," she said, gesturing to the victim sitting in the back of the courtroom, "has absolutely no motive to fabricate what she told you."
After deliberating for approximately three hours and 40 minutes, the jury of three men and three women returned their verdicts.
Judge. H. Gregory Williams sentenced Mr. Richards to two years in jail, with all except 60 days suspended, which was the recommendation of the prosecutor. He also ordered probation and psychological treatment. Conviction on a first offense for the charge of open lewdness does not require Mr. Richards to register as a sex offender.
"The judge did what I asked for," said Ms. Marshard. "It was an appropriate sentence, given the nature of the crime. The victim was pleased with the outcome, so that's important to me. It recognizes the serious nature of his conduct, and the fact that the community won't tolerate this."
Mr. Boyle declined comment on the trial.
Tisbury police chief John Cashin offered praise for the victim in the case.
"It took a lot of courage," said chief Cashin. "I admire her for coming forward and doing as well as she did. Thanks to her kind of courage and commitment, she may have helped to avoid this in the future for somebody else."
Mr. Richards is due back in court in March, to face sex charges in a different case.
In that case, he faces a charge of open and gross lewdness, and a charge of enticing a minor. Police say those charges involve a girl under the age of 14.
Mr. Richards testified that he no longer lives on Martha's Vineyard. He said he has moved with his family to Nashua, New Hampshire, where he owns and operates a computer and mobile phone business.