Editor's Note: The Collegian does not name victims of crimes without their permission.
When former University of Richmond student Anthony Madrigal told the judge he did not feel he was guilty of the three counts of sexual battery brought against him, Linsy Lawson couldn’t help but let out a small laugh.
“I got very upset when Anthony said that he wasn’t guilty,” Lawson said.
Lawson, 19, is one of the two survivors in the case brought against Madrigal, also 19.
“To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that [Madrigal] did that,” Lawson said. “I think he was really just trying to show that he has power over me and over the other victim. But he doesn’t.”
Tuesday morning, Lawson and the other survivor — who did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment — were present in the courtroom as Judge Theodore J. Markow read aloud a plea agreement pre-arranged by both the prosecution and defense teams.
Madrigal, who appeared in court dressed in a white American Eagle T-shirt, was originally arrested in February on charges of felony abduction and forcible sodomy.
The abduction charges were dropped in March, according to court records. He then faced three charges – rape, sodomy and object sexual penetration by force.
But on Tuesday, Madrigal was allowed to plead no contest to reduced charges of three counts of sexual battery, receiving a three-month jail sentence to be served at the Richmond City Justice Center.
“I don’t think that there’s any punishment that he could get that I would ever be completely happy with,” Lawson said.
According to court documents, the Tuesday hearing was originally meant to be a full jury trial. But throughout the past two weeks, defense and prosecution attorneys had been in talks of a plea agreement at the request of Lawson and the other survivor, Lawson said.
“With the plea deal, it’s just a lot easier,” she said. “I didn’t have to testify, I didn’t have to relive all of that very publicly in front of strangers. It just seemed like a better alternative than going to trial.”
It can be difficult to win over an entire jury, particularly in cases of sex crimes. All it takes is one juror to feel sympathy for Madrigal, Lawson said.
“Even if we went to trial and he was convicted, because he has no prior convictions and no prior run-ins with the police, he probably wouldn’t have spent any time in jail,” she said.
Although she wishes Madrigal would have been sentenced to serve more time in jail with the plea agreement, Lawson is thankful to no longer have a court date looming in the future.
“[Madrigal] was arrested in February,” Lawson said. “Since February, I’ve been thinking about, ‘When is the trial going to be? When am I going to have to testify?’ Now I can move on with my life and I don’t have this hanging over my head.”
Lawson, who was a first-year, left UR in March to go back home to Tennessee. She recently moved into an apartment and got a new job, and is taking online classes for her political science major.
Lawson hopes to use her personal experiences to create change.
“I want to try to change the policies and laws involving cases like this,” she said.
Confidential on-campus resources for survivors of sexual violence include Counseling and Psychological Services, PSMAs (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Office of the Chaplaincy and the Student Health Center. Safe Harbor Advocate is a confidential off-campus resource.
Non-confidential resources are the university police, the Title IX office, the Westhampton College and Richmond College deans’ offices and the Office of Common Ground.
Contact editor-in-chief Jocelyn Grzeszczak at email@example.com.