Amanda Wilson of Belchertown admits rape and abuse of a child, avoids state prison sentence



Last modified: Friday, January 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A Belchertown woman pleaded guilty to charges that in 2011 she raped a boy half her age with whom she was having a “love affair.”

However, work she has done in the meantime to rehabilitate herself convinced lawyers to reach a plea agreement avoiding a state prison sentence.

Amanda Wilson, 28, of 10 South Main St., Apt. #1, pleaded guilty in Hampshire Superior Court before Judge Mary-Lou Rup to four counts of rape and abuse of a child.

She was sentenced to two years in the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee, followed by five years of probation.

Wilson had been arraigned on the more serious charges of rape and abuse of a child aggravated by age difference which carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Linda Pisano said that since shortly after her arraignment in November 2012, Wilson has attended counseling, joined Alcoholics Anonymous, admitted the relationship to police, held down two jobs and maintained a 4.0 grade point average at UMass, all of which were factors in agreeing to allow a plea to the lesser charges.

Pisano and Wilson’s attorney, Jonah Goldsmith of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, both said the victim and his family are also sympathetic toward Wilson and asked that a sentence involving no prison or jail time at all be considered.

Wilson admitted that on about five occasions she had sex with a 13-year-old boy between April 1 and May 20, 2011. Wilson was 26 at the time. The Gazette as a mater of policy does not identify the victims of sex crimes.

The boy was the son of a family friend and Wilson admitted sex with the child happened while she was watching him while his parents were out of the country.

The accusations surfaced after the Department of Children and Families began investigating a report of abuse from Amherst Regional High School that claimed several students were left home unsupervised for extended periods of time.

During that investigation, accusations that Wilson had been having sex with the victim came to light, prompting an investigation by police.

Wilson at first denied having sex with the boy, but in a second interview admitted what she had done.

In court, Wilson apologized for her “complete lack of judgment,” and said her struggles with her own mental health and substance abuse contributed to her decisions. “It doesn’t take away from what has occurred,” she said.

Pisano said she struggled with the decision to enter into the plea agreement because Wilson was a trusted family friend who abused her authority and had sex multiple times with a vulnerable teenager.

Despite that, and considering the steps Wilson took to make amends and get her own issues addressed, Pisano believed the 10-year prison sentence she was facing — or any state prison term — would be inappropriate.

Pisano said, all things being equal, she would have made the same recommendation even if the genders of Wilson and the victim were reversed.

Goldsmith said Wilson appreciated the “significant break” she received and said her crime was one of opportunity and unlikely to be repeated.

“She made a fateful choice based on a lack of judgment,” Goldsmith said.

While on probation, Wilson must abide by several special conditions, including GPS monitoring, having no contact with the victim, remaining drug and alcohol free and submitting to random screenings, and having no unsupervised contact with children under age 16.

Wilson will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Before Wilson was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs to begin her sentence, Rup commended her for the “good work” she had done since her arraignment in 2012 and wished her luck.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.


 


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