CHARLES DICKENS, Oliver Twist.
Antwione Hough appeared taken aback yesterday when, instead of being sentenced to a short probation period, he got 11 1/2 to 23 months of house arrest followed by seven years' probation for orchestrating the capture and beating of the man who raped and impregnated his 14-year-old niece.The judge said that he wanted to send a message. Well he did. The message is: "we're probably not going to catch the scum who rip apart your communities, but you're sure not going to be allowed to do it, either."
"I'm just overwhelmed," Hough told Common Pleas Judge Harold M. Kane. "I didn't expect that."
Kane said that the sentence would send a message, while allowing Hough, 39, to keep working to support his family.
"I know it's a long [probation] and you don't want to be bothered with it, but you can't take the law into your own hands," Kane warned. "If everybody does that, there would be chaos."
The judge was not impressed when defense attorney Peter Bowers noted that a financial reward had been given to the men who beat and captured another child rapist - Jose Carrasquillo, who, on Nov. 15, will be sentenced for raping an 11-year-old girl in Kensington in June 2009.
"Well, he got an award - he's not going to jail," Kane said of Hough, who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, conspiracy and possession of an instrument of crime.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Davis argued that Hough should do 11 1/2 to 23 months in jail for what he did to Emmanuel G. Figueroa, 25, in 2008.
"Obviously, there are laws against beating people in the street," Davis said after the hearing.
Despite what Figueroa did to Hough's niece, Davis added, it was wrong for Hough and his relatives to track down Figueroa, beat him bloody and transport him to the girl's house so that she could identify him.
Things have gotten only worse for Figueroa. On July 13, he pleaded guilty to rape, forcible compulsion and indecent exposure, and is waiting to be sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison, according to court records.
Hough, of Mayfair, who served 10 years in the Army Reserves and now works at a box manufacturer and as a home contractor, said the case has taken an emotional and financial toll on him.
He said his house is nearly in foreclosure after he spent more than $12,000 for bail and lawyer bills since being arrested Nov. 17. 2008 - the day he caught up with Figueroa.
"I thought I was making a citizen's arrest," Hough said during an interview. "I think the judge was fair under the circumstances. But I didn't think it would be that severe."
On July 1, 2008, Figueroa saw the victim sitting on the front steps of her Lawndale home and tricked her into going next door to his girlfriend's house, where he raped her and warned her not to tell anyone. Frightened, she complied, but four months later the secret was revealed when she fainted and doctors told her she was pregnant. The pregnancy was terminated.
Hough said that when he and his relatives learned where Figueroa was staying, and that he was making plans to leave the city, they moved in.
Hough's niece, who is now in therapy, recently told him that she felt responsible for his mortgage troubles.
"I told her, 'No, it's not your fault. This is how we protect our family.' "
Yeah, I know...beating people in the street is technically wrong, even if they are despicable child-rapers. But I can understand and even identify with Hough, as can many other people, I'm sure. I'm personally all about law and order, but I'm more about justice, and if someone were ever to victimize one of my relatives like that--especially a child...well let's just say that they'd be lucky to have the police catch them first. And even then, I'd probably be waiting outside the prison on their parole date, Louisville Slugger in hand.