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.

Insider October 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM
So I guess the parents just thought, "oh darn, I guess with the other guy its ok" another reason for a flawed criminal justice system. Now I am not for the American Criminal Lienency Union (ACLU) but it is my opinion that law & punishment is flawed by ones economic being. Yes color continues to play a role, but the mighty dollar can make a significant impact on manners of the law.
JB Davis (Editor) October 02, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Insider, Very interesting comment. Would you please expand on it a bit.
Joe Feltcher October 02, 2012 at 03:44 PM
The girl sounds like the problem here, not him. She clearly sleeps around.
Kenny October 02, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Pan to Bobby on 1...2...3........
Insider October 02, 2012 at 05:16 PM
JB, I have reviewed many cases, depending on the representation , determines the outcome of guilt and sentencing. for example : Subject 1, white, black hispanic, minimal work skills, poor family support, annual income very low. He is charged of a crime, say assault, assigned public defender, receives 4 year sentence. Subject 2, educated, financially able to hire representation, charges are reduced or found guilty, serves 2 years sentence. Same crime, two outcomes. If the courts did away with plea deals and charged the subject the same term for same crime it would put attorneys out of work, so that will never happen. Remember Kobe Bryant, OJ? Money rules the courts. Economics of the party involved plays a significant role in our justice system.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 02, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Great outcome and a just and fair one. Why did the BPD decide to make an arrest in this case anyway when they didn't make an arrest in the former Economic Development Board President, Eldin Petersen when he was caught on tape vandalizing businesses in downtown business. Why? Racism, that's why!!! Selective prosecution of crimes. I wrote about such prosecution in Benicia and Solano back in March of this. Do you people really have no sense of fairness and justice?!!! Here is the link!!! http://patch.com/N-dqcV
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 02, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Black Mans’ Oath “In the Blackest lie,and in the whitest fright, No racism shall escape this black mans' sight. Let those who practice their racist rite, Beware my pen… when this Black man write!!!“
School Employee & Benicia resident October 02, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Was justice really served? He was still convicted of a crime which may affect his employment options in the future. I am torn in some ways about this case because there was a 4 yr difference in their ages. Too much unknown information, but I am sure both parties are glad it is settled.
JB Davis (Editor) October 03, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I think the fact that he doesn't have to register and that he doesn't have a felony conviction made it a palatable compromise.
Scott Burford October 03, 2012 at 04:21 AM
There's no doubt in my mind that having good representation saved Mr. Mitchell from more extensive prosecution. I'd be extremely grateful to not have to register as a sex offender wherever I lived. What's more interesting to me in this case is that the young female apparenently had sex with 2 men, used drugs, and (according to Attorney Maher) her parents seemed only concerned with prosecuting the young black man involved in this situation. The young female, and her parents, will probably learn nothing from this incident, and I'm sure we'll be paying for her multiple children from multiple fathers some years from now while she lives out the lyrics in the Neil Young song "Welfare Mothers".
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 03, 2012 at 04:55 AM
I like the Neil Diamond song "CRACKLIN ROSE"!!!
Babaloo October 04, 2012 at 04:28 AM
yeah yeah yeah ,,Racist,,yeah yeah yeah...bobby and his BS... Now reality. Ok,, 1 this seems really fishy to me. What is this girl doing out there having sex with "whomever" ? 2 seperate guys, both 18. she is "14" ...well lets look at this. this is a PROBLEM. yes it is a PROBLEM. this girl is to blame as well. I am glad the young man got a slap on the wrist so to speak. personally i don't think he should have been charged at ALL. then you have second dude,,who "denied" everything so, who knows if it happened or not. This young "lady" needs to be more responsible with herself. She should be ashamed of her behavior and he parents really ought to look at what the hell is going on. Some grls do look older than they are, some guys and girls lie about their age. Some don't. peer pressure makes you succumb to evil on all parties. 1 when you deal with the POLICE...shut the hell up. they are NOT your friend. 2. refer to NUMBER 1. 3. don't get your dumb self in these type of situations. 4. Shut the hell up when talking to the Police. 5. BE responsible a little "friendship" from a young lady may be the end of you, jail time, register as sex offender,,,forget all that.. BEHAVE. stay the hell away from them. 6. Refer to numbers 1-5. Be safe, be good and when in doubt,,,run like hell away from the situation.
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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