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Judge grants bail to Bel Air boy, 16, charged with sexual assault

Sexual AssaultJustice System

The 16-year-old Bel Air boy, jailed since last week after being accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl at a party, was released from the Harford County Detention Center Monday after a judge reduced his bail earlier in the day.

A day before his release, a group of supporters staged a mini-protest during the town of Bel Air's annual Christmas parade down Main Street.

On Monday, Harford County District Court Judge Victor Butanis set bail at $25,000 for Alessandro Lori, a Bel Air High School student. Five members of Lori's family were in the courtroom for Lori's second bail review hearing.

Lori was released from the detention center later in the day.

During an earlier hearing on Nov. 27, the day after his arrest, District Court Judge Susan Hazlett ordered Lori held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center.

Butanis agreed Monday to set bail at $25,000 but ordered Lori to be under a curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., attend school regularly, be supervised for drug and alcohol use and continue to not have contact with the victim.

Assistant State's Attorney Alison Healey told Butanis the state was willing to agree with that arrangement.

"We do think it would be more productive for Lori to be out on bail, or be given a bail, rather than sitting in jail pre-trial at 16 years old," Healey said.

She also asked for pre-trial supervision, noting "there was continuous partying after the night of this incident and my concern is the defendant would continue with that behavior."

Lori's lawyer, Dennis Cuomo, tried to present witness statements to the court, but the judge would not allow them.

"I don't think it's appropriate at this stage of the proceeding," Butanis said.

Lori is charged with first-degree sex offense, which carries a life sentence, as well as second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, first- and second-degree assault and attempted perverted practice.

Lori, of the 800 block of Bridle Path in Bel Air, is accused of attacking his victim at a party in Forest Hill Nov. 21 and, ultimately, sexually assaulting her.

Assistant State's Attorney Alison Carver said during Lori's first bail review hearing last week that the victim is a student at the John Carroll School in Bel Air.

"She was at the home of a friend of a friend, in which she anticipated it to be a small gathering," Carver said about the allegations against Lori, which took place in the 1900 block of Hill View Drive. "It quickly turned into much more."

"The victim became uncomfortable and went downstairs," Carver continued, noting the room was dark. "She was struck from behind, pushed to the ground by an individual who at that time [she] didn't know who it was."

The person lit a lighter, which is when the girl said she recognized Lori, who threatened to "burn her face off," Carver said.

He allegedly used either a folded knife or part of his body to sexually assault her, according to charging documents.

During this incident, Lori allegedly struck the girl in the head several times and bit her neck, according to charging documents.

Ed Hopkins, spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said last week that Lori was charged as an adult because of the seriousness of the charges.

"[First] degree sex offense is one of the crimes where a juvenile can be charged as an adult," Hopkins said. "In this case, due to the severity of the crime, the suspect was charged as an adult."

'Wrongfully accused'

A small group of demonstrators supporting Lori were among the hundreds of residents who lined the sidewalks of Bel Air's Main Street for the town's annual Christmas parade Sunday afternoon.

The demonstrators wore T-shirts reading "Free Alex Lori" and waved signs in front of the Circuit Courthouse

Kelly Johnson, a Bel Air resident and parent of teenage boy, said the group wants to bring attention to what some believe is Lori being "wrongfully accused."

"He has a lot of supporters backing him," Johnson said.

Patricia Lori, Alessandro Lori's 20-year-old sister, also of Bel Air, said her brother wanted to change the world and would have been the first to help the girl he is accused of assaulting, not hurt her.

"He is just one of those really good kids," Patricia Lori said, as Johnson repeated the words on a sign being waved behind her: "Lies Ruin Lives."

This is an updated story with a correction. Judge Susan Hazlett presided at Lori's first bail hearing.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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