By John P. Kelly
The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), January 28, 2009
Dedham, MA -- The courtroom fell quiet Tuesday as a young rape victim’s story of stolen innocence and emotional healing was read aloud.
Shackled and listening, the man who had held her down was sentenced to prison for at least two years.
But someone was missing from the courtroom.
The accused rapist.
Kamil Ostrowski was indicted in 2007 – while jailed for a different crime – on a charge he had raped the girl in Quincy when she was 14. But in April, federal immigration officials deported the 22-year-old to Poland before he could be tried.
The Norfolk County District Attorney’s office said immigration officials never notified them that Ostrowski faced deportation. But spokesman David Traub acknowledged Tuesday that prosecutors had learned Ostrowski was in federal custody but took no steps to prevent the accused rapist from being deported.
The office was told of the immigration matter by Ostrowski’s defense attorney, James Corbo. In future cases, Traub said, prosecutors may now decide to 'act on informal information' of that sort.
'It was always the intention of this office to bring both co-defendants to trial,' Traub said.
Michael Sullivan, the 21-year-old accomplice, was sentenced to a state prison term of two to three years for pinning the girl to his bed a few days before Christmas 2003.
But for Ostrowski, who the girl said raped her, the communication breakdown may have resulted in a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Similar mix-ups between state prosecutors and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have occurred before.
Moonie Moses was deported to Guyana in 2002 prior to his trial for raping two teenage girls and a woman with cerebral palsy in Dorchester. Authorities later extradited Moses, who was sentenced last year to two life sentences.
A similar case played out in New Jersey this year, where 20-year-old Carlos Ulloa-Murrillo was charged with the aggravated rape of a 12-year-old girl, only to be deported to Honduras.
U.S. Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, vowed Friday to file legislation to fix the 'communication gap' between agencies.
ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier said deportations of illegal immigrants are carried out unless local prosecutors convince a judge to order the convicted immigrant returned to state custody for trial.
'We are required to enforce immigration law, and that’s what we do,' Grenier said.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said local police and prosecutors too often have a weak understanding of immigration law that can lead criminals to 'fall between the cracks.'
'They need to screen for immigration status from the get-go, from the time of arrest,' said Vaughan. 'With ICE having great success in removing criminals from the population – in larger numbers than ever before – this becomes more and more important.'
Complicating matters, federal authorities are not required to check for outstanding criminal charges before deporting an individual, according to Charles Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.
In Norfolk Superior Court on Tuesday, the woman raped in Quincy sat in the courtroom as Assistant District Attorney Megan Kennedy read her victim-impact statement. Beyond robbing her of her virginity, the woman wrote that the attack led to years of depression, anxiety and flashbacks.
'I will never be able to have a normal relationship with a man,' Kennedy read.
At the time Ostrowski was indicted, he was serving a two-year jail sentence for robbing a man of $75 at knife-point on a Red Line train to Boston.
He and Sullivan were 16 at the time of the rape more than three years earlier, which prosecutors said occurred after the teens drank rum and played video games together. Ostrowski, who pleaded innocent, told investigators two weeks after the attack the girl willingly had sex with him.
After learning of Ostrowski’s armed robbery, ICE placed a detainer on him, essentially calling for him to be turned over once he finished his sentence. Ostrowski had been in the country illegally since he was 8.
In late November 2007, Ostrowski finished his sentence 87 days early – credit earned in jail – and was immediately taken into federal custody. After a hearing, he was deported on April 16.
Seven months later, after Ostrowski failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest.