Criminal Justice

Lawyer who testified she spit toward but not on Black Lives Matter protester convicted; another trial awaits

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A Wisconsin lawyer was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct Wednesday for spitting at a 17-year-old Black Lives Matter protester in June 2020.

The lawyer, 67-year-old Stephanie Rapkin of Wisconsin, had testified that she spit toward but not on Eric Lucas III. Her lawyer had contended that Rapkin acted in self-defense in an effort to get Lucas away from her.

Lucas said, however, that Rapkin spit in his face in an incident caught on video.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CBS 58, WISN 12 and TMJ 4 are among the publications with coverage.

Rapkin’s initial charge carried a hate crime enhancement, but a judge agreed with a defense motion that it should be dropped.

Rapkin testified Tuesday, according to coverage by Fox 6. Rapkin said she was driving home when she encountered the protesters, and she tried to make a U-turn.

“I’m trying to get out of there as carefully as I can without hurting anybody,” Rapkin testified. “They’re yelling at me, and they’re saying (I) almost hit bicyclist and I freaked out. I jumped out of the car.”

Rapkin said she started walking toward the marchers.

“I felt unsafe instantly. People were following; people were yelling,” Rapkin testified.

The protesters “ran towards me pretty aggressively,” Rapkin said.

When she encountered Lucas, he said, “[Expletive], move your car,” Rapkin testified.

She said she wanted to get Lucas away from her because she was receiving cancer treatment and didn’t want to get sick. Lucas wasn’t wearing a mask.

“I wanted to put a mark on the ground” by spitting, Rapkin said.

On cross-examination, the prosecutor asked why Rapkin never told police that she spat toward the ground.

“Inartful,” Rapkin replied.

Pressed on whether her statement to police was inaccurate, she said it was.

Lucas has filed a lawsuit against Rapkin over the incident.

Rapkin is also awaiting trial on a battery charge for allegedly kneeing a police officer in the groin during an altercation outside her home the day after the spitting incident. The officer was trying to arrest Rapkin after she confronted a 21-year-old college student writing in chalk on her sidewalk. His written messages included, “I spit on a child,” and, “Be better than this.”

Rapkin’s lawyer, Anthony Cotton, said after the verdict that Rapkin was remorseful for her actions, according to coverage by CBS 58.

“It’s ruined her career,” Cotton said. “There’s been a lot of consequences outside of the court system for her, so she definitely has regret over what happened.”

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