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Sorkin Accepts Plea Deals, Avoids Hate Crime Charge

Michael Sorkin accepted plea deals issued by judges in both Middlesex and Suffolk County Courts earlier this week. The Boston College Police Department (BCPD) arrested Sorkin for destroying property in Walsh Hall and vandalizing Welch Hall with racist epithets last December. During his arrest, Sorkin assaulted one of the two BCPD officers who had been sent to investigate the vandalism.

The criminal cases against Sorkin proceeded in two separate courts due to the nature of his charges: Welch Hall, where Sorkin wrote the epithets and lived last year, is located in Middlesex County, while Walsh Hall is located in Suffolk County.

In Middlesex County, Sorkin had been charged with underaged possession of liquor, assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, tagging property, malicious destruction of property exceeding $1,200, and a civil rights violation—also known as a hate crime. 

The Middlesex County plea deal orders Sorkin to be placed on pretrial probation for 18 months for underaged possession of alcohol, according to court documents. For the counts of assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and tagging property, Sorkin admitted that there were sufficient facts to find him guilty if the case had gone to trial, also known as a continuance without finding (CWOF), according to court documents.

If he breaks the conditions of the CWOF, he will be found guilty and thus subject to punishment. Pretrial probation, on the other hand, does not carry any admission of guilt, but the case can be reopened if he breaks the conditions of the agreement.

The two parties also agreed to dismiss the civil rights violation as part of the plea. 

Sorkin’s lawyer and the Middlesex District Attorney’s office agreed to demote the charge of malicious destruction of property exceeding $1,200—a felony—down to less than $1,200—a misdemeanor charge. This lesser charge was added to the CWOF.

Following his arrest, the University put Sorkin on summary suspension, which banned him from campus. He is no longer enrolled at BC, and he is currently taking classes at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV).

As part of the 18-month CWOF, the judge ordered Sorkin to pen a letter of apology to the BC community, stay away from all BC campuses, complete two classes at UNLV related to diversity or racially sensitive issues, stay alcohol-free and submit to random enforcement screenings, and undergo a mental health evaluation and any follow-up treatment deemed necessary. The deal also transfers Sorkin’s Middlesex County probation to Nevada.

Over the summer, Sorkin received $1,000 from the Middlesex District Court to fund a psychological examination. Sorkin’s defense at the time was that he lacked criminal responsibility, which is more commonly known as an insanity plea.

Although Sorkin did participate in a mental health evaluation, his lawyer said that it did not suggest that an insanity plea was a plausible defense.

Sorkin’s attorney recommended that his probation and CWOF be limited to just a year, while the DA’s office suggested 18 months. The judge agreed with all of the prosecutor’s recommendations, but added the provision about diversity-related classes.

As part of the deal, Sorkin must pay a $150 attorney fee and a $50 witness fee to Middlesex County Court. He also must pay $65 for each month of his probation, which totals $1,170.

In Suffolk County, Sorkin had also been charged with property destruction in excess of $1,200—in this case, for discharging a fire extinguisher—and falsely activating a fire alarm. Sorkin agreed to pay BC $2,523 for the destruction of property in Walsh Hall. He also is on pretrial probation for 12 months, which Suffolk County will supervise.

Jack Goldman contributed to this report.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor

October 10, 2019

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