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Former Benicia High Basketball Player Gets Probation After Accepting Misdemeanor Deal

His lawyer claims the case was racially motivated after evidence showed another adult man was not charged for the same crime with the same girl.

When former Benicia High basketball player James Mitchell was arrested at Benicia High School in December  2011 he faced a felony charge of statutory rape.  On September 7, 2012 Mitchell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was given three years summary probation.  Mitchell will not have to register as a sex offender or regularly check in with a probation officer.

The reduced charge came after Mitchell’s attorney, Vince Maher, made a motion on August 28, 2012 to dismiss all charges claiming Mitchell was a victim of discriminatory prosecution. 

The father of the girl Mitchell had sex with learned of the affair when he checked his 14-year-old daughter’s cell phone and read text messages between Mitchell and his daughter.  Mitchell was 18 at the time and according to court records he thought the girl was 15.

Police arrested Mitchell after he and the girl told police, in separate interviews, that they had consensual sexual intercourse. 

Court records also show the girl’s father reported finding text messages indicating that, on a different occasion, his daughter had sexual intercourse with another 18-year-old man, Joseph Darosa, after the two of them had smoked marijuana.

The girl confirmed to police that the two had engaged in intercourse but Darosa denied it when interviewed by officers.

According to Maher, Mitchell’s defense attorney, the biggest difference between the two incidents is the skin color of the two men involved.  Mitchell is African-American, Darosa is not.

“I think it was a racially motivated prosecution-not by the District Attorney’s office- by the parents,” said Maher.

After his arrest, Mitchell, who was a starring player on the Benicia High School basketball team, was suspended from the team.

“You would think justice is and always should be colorblind but we don’t live in a courtroom,” said Maher.

According to Maher, Mitchell is now attending a Bay Area community college and is once again playing basketball.  

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

Joe Feltcher October 04, 2012 at 05:04 AM
At least the kid didn't beat her up.......
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 04, 2012 at 06:19 AM
In the blackest lie and in he whitest fright ...No racism shall escape this black mans"s sight...Let those who practice there racist rite!!! Beware my pen... When this Black man write!!
Babaloo October 11, 2012 at 03:41 AM
garbage garbage garbage,,,bobby,,garbage garbage ,,,racism, garbage...racism...crap..garbage,,,
Babaloo December 21, 2012 at 06:01 AM
you smell funny. oh thats right..you are a racist. i forgot.
Babaloo December 21, 2012 at 06:04 AM
this is wrong. really really wrong....

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