08/27/2006 06:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gambling on Redemption

Jesus Christ. Hit a couple of young black girls with a metal police baton while you're shouting racist slurs - and get sentenced to community service in a homeless shelter?

Oh, I may have left out something relevant. Did I mention Josh Spaulding, the 28-year-old skinhead (aka "Jazz"), is a Boston blueblood and his dad's a Boston cultural maven? He's also the grandson of the former head of the Massachusetts GOP, who ran for the Senate in 1970. Having the right relatives sure seems to help.

This appeared shortly after the attack:

Despite the father's interest in the case, sources say the younger Spaulding appears estranged from his prominent family. They say he hopped a T turnstile prior to the attack, perhaps indicating he has little access to his family's riches.

"I'm not sure he's been close to his family the last few years,'' said the source.

But investigators think he might be in hiding with the help of some his pals from "The Pit'' at Harvard Square - a haven for disaffected youth, many of whom hail from wealthy families.

"I think he's wandering (or) he's got some friends who are hiding him,'' the source said. "Most of the kids from The Pit, that's what they are: rich white kids.''

Judging from the sentence, I'd say they're back on speaking terms.

A judge spared a white man from a prominent family from a prison term today when he sentenced him for beating two black teenagers in what prosecutors called a racially motivated attack.

Instead, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Charles Spurlock gave Josiah Spaulding III to five years probation and 200 hours of community service at the Pine Street Inn or another homeless shelter. Spaulding, according to his sentence, will also have to visit the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill, make a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and remove his tattoos with Nazi symbolism.

Prosecutors had asked that Spaulding, who they described as a "skinhead," be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in addition to five years of probation for what they called a "vicious attack." He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison with a minimum sentence of probation, according to the Suffolk district attorney's office.

"Judge Spurlock's sentence is one that addresses the very nature of the underlying offense," said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley in a written statement. "Obviously we felt that committed time would also have been appropriate, but this lengthy probationary term, with these strict and very appropriate conditions, is a wise and thoughtful sentence."

From a May 30, 2003 post on the Boston blog BadTransit:

According to court documents filed in East Boston District Court, Spaulding called Andrea Dowe on Feb. 10 from his girlfriend's home in East Boston and said: ''You [expletive] fat Jew. I'm gonna gas you and your family. You sick [expletive]. . . . I'm gonna murder you.''

Dowe, 18, turned over the voice mail, as well as several threatening e-mails she alleges that Spaulding's girlfriend sent, to detectives from the Boston Police Community Disorders Unit, which investigates hate crimes and civil rights violations.

He is charged with a civil rights violation in the Nov. 22 attack on three black teenage girls who were racially taunted by a group of 10 white youths in the subway passageway near Downtown Crossing. Police said Spaulding struck two of the girls, one of them twice, with a baton.

After an arrest warrant was issued, Spaulding went to Amsterdam for several months. He turned himself in to MBTA police in February after his family negotiated with police, an MBTA official said at the time. {Boston Globe}

By the way, the "baton" wasn't the kind used for conducting music, but something called an ASP, favored by skinheads. It was a tactical police weapon:

Fugitive Josiah A. "Josh'' Spaulding III allegedly told an ex-girlfriend he ordered his pals to step aside before he whipped out a baton and beat the girls, according to documents obtained by the Herald.

"He told the two females who were with him to get out of the way and let him finish the assault,'' Ciara Bottomsley told investigators, according to an affidavit filed in Boston Municipal Court. "(He) said several of his companions were together when they approached two black females.''

Court records portray Spaulding - the son of Wang Center chief Joe Spaulding Jr. - as a quiet, hateful racist who hangs out with a violent crowd and whose body is covered with swastikas and Nazi tattoos.

Spaulding and his friends allegedly delivered the horrific attack on the pair Nov. 22 in the underground concourse between the Park Street and Downtown Crossing MBTA stations.

The group shouted racial slurs at the girls and called them "whores'' before Spaulding struck them both in the head with an asp - a collapsible metal baton that is the "preferred'' weapon of choice among skinheads, according to the documents. [...]

Investigators found a baton last week during a search of a U-Haul storage unit in Somerville where Spaulding squirreled away a treasure trove of Nazi paraphernalia in the days after the attack. It is unclear whether it is the same weapon used in the assault.

Authorities seized 14 boxes of neo-Nazi, white supremacist and skinhead magazines, books, manuals and historical writings, according to a search warrant return filed in the Boston court.

Also recovered were videos and CDs containing "motivational'' skinhead material, a 20-inch dagger bearing a swastika, leather boots with chrome steel toes, leather clothes and Spaulding's checkbook.

Police have interviewed Spaulding's ex-girlfriend, Michelle Warren, 33, of Marlboro, who said Spaulding "freaked out'' when she told him she was "half black.''

"Ms. Warren stated Spaulding was hateful and prejudiced. She told me Spaulding believes in Hitler and his philosophies. She told me Spaulding is a skinhead and believes in the supremacy of the white race,'' MBTA Sgt. Detective Mark Gillespie wrote in an affidavit supporting the search warrant application.

"She told me Spaulding believes all Jews and blacks should be killed,'' Gillespie wrote.

Warren, who did not return a phone call last night, had been in contact with Spaulding since the attack, court records show. Spaulding allegedly told her he got rid of the baton he pummeled the girls with and sent her a travel itinerary for Amsterdam and London. [...]

Spaulding is a follower in the World Church of the Creator led by reputed hate-monger Matthew Hale. Spaulding was among the supporters who went to hear the controversial separatist leader speak in Wakefield in September. The event drew scores of protesters and erupted into a bloody clash between Hale's followers and opponents.

It's not an unusual tale - well-meaning divorced parents, in-your-face rebellion, acting out. And maybe this angry, broken young man still has the potential for redemption within. But shielding him from the consequences of his actions is a dangerous game. Here's hoping no one else ever has to pay the price for crossing his path.

I just wonder if angry young men without such blue blood - or such very white skin - get the same understanding treatment.