Greenleaf attacker: Judge-freed Haskins now charged in child rape

news-haskins-mugshotsHaskins in his latest mugshot at left and in 2003.

Seven years ago, after Robert Terrell Haskins was charged with his first sexual assault, police felt so sure that he was a man unable to control himself that they expressed outrage when a little-known judge reduced an attempted rape charge to a misdemeanor sexual battery conviction, and they predicted that Haskins would molest again. Sadly, that prediction proved accurate for the then-eight-year-old child Haskins allegedly assaulted between 2003 and 2005.

The alleged victim, now 16, contacted police this spring, and Haskins, now 26, stands charged with five counts of forcible sodomy and one count of aggravated sexual assault.

"My reaction?" responds Albemarle Sheriff Chip Harding, who was a Charlottesville police captain when Haskins was first charged. "I'm really not surprised. Those of us around back then felt like he had a compulsive nature that made him a sexual predator. I'm still perplexed the judge made the decision he did."

Haskins' infamy began with an attack in Greenleaf Park on December 30, 2002. The brazen daylight attack on a mother in the presence of her toddler came at a time when Charlottesville women were already on edge with a serial rapist on the looseArrested the following March, Haskins admitted on videotape that he'd knocked the 34-year-old woman to the ground to have sexual relations with her and fled when she screamed and fought him off.

Nonetheless, when tried in September 2003, Haskins was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery and given just a six-month sentence. With credit for time served, he was released that same month.

"Those in court were flabbergasted with the judge's decision," says Harding.

As for the judge, Joseph Spinella, he's now 85 and retired in Richmond. Although he says he doesn't remember the case ("It doesn't ring a bell," he says), he cites pre-sentencing reports that give the defendant's background and sentencing guidelines that would have played into his decision.

"You get a pretty good picture of what he's like, but you can't predict if he's going to do well," says Spinella. "We truly dislike hearing someone has not followed the rules and stayed out of trouble."

Despite the subsequent alleged assaults on a child, says Spinella, "I don't think I would have done anything differently."

"For that judge not to remember, we have some cracks in our legal system," says Sheriff Harding. "He wasn't part of our community and doesn't have to answer for his decision."

Between 2003-2005, when the latest victim was between 8 and 10 years old, Haskins would rack up increasingly more serious sexual assault charges. In February 2003, prior to his conviction, Haskins grabbed the buttocks of a a juvenile female jogger on Locust Avenue and received a misdemeanor sexual battery conviction.  Later that year, he allegedly chased another jogger on Locust Avenue.

Two years later, he broke into a woman's house on Little High Street, a crime for which he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison. And at the time of the most recent charges, Haskins was already in jail for probation violation and for providing false information to the state's sexual offender registry, says a Charlottesville Police lieutenant.

"We warned there was a high likelihood of him re-offending," says Sheriff Harding, who wonders how–- or even whether–- judges are monitored and assessed.

"I can't say this guy is incompetent," says Harding, speaking of the judge, "but his ruling seemed to be incompetent. I'm glad to hear he's retired."

Harding says that efforts to rehabilitate people with certain types of sexual deviancy often fail. "If he's found guilty," says Harding, of the latest charges, "I hope the judge will incapacitate him."

Haskins attended a school for learning and emotional disabilities and once told police that if he doesn't take his medication, "I do wild stuff."

"If he has a mental illness, I'd like to see him treated," says Harding, "but he's a danger to the community."

Updated 7:10pm with Judge Joseph Spinella's full name.


Read the link embedded in the story Donald.

This guy does look like the one in the sketch related to Morgans case I wonder if LE has checked this out

Something tells me that this story won't make it onto Waldo's blog..

deleted by moderator

some people is mental ill in this life and will never be right but i hope he ask god to forgive him of his sins but he is a sick man.

Why is everyone calling this judge's judgment poor when no one has any idea as to what evidence was presented before him at trial, what evidence was excluded, or what objections and arguments counsel for both sides made. Isn't the prosecutor just as responsible for failing to secure a conviction? Let's all get the facts before we jump to ignorant criticism.

I retract my above comment after reading the article from the initial case.


One analogy made for the role judges play in society is to an umpire in a baseball game. Umpires sometimes blow calls that have repercussions in games.

Of course, this is not a baseball game and this is not the only judge locally or in the country as a whole that discounts either the damage sexual assault has on the victims or the predatory nature of these types of criminals.

Too many child rape or child porn perps get light sentences. Too often inter-family allegations of sexual abuse are completely ignored. Too many victims of these crimes are failed by the judicial system.

Sheriff Harding is absolutely correct. There needs to be greater accountability for those judges that make such heinous mistakes.

Some have postulated on this website that judges get rubber-stamped re-appointments. Some have pointed out that local bars are completely unwilling to criticize local judges.

This needs to change as too often judges wash their hands of their dumb decisions or simply don't care about the negative repercussions. They are never held to account by those that practice in their courts or by those that appoint them.

It is we the people that suffer as a result.

"Updated 7:10pm with Judge Joseph Spinella’s full name."

"As for the judge, Joseph Spinella, he’s now 85 and retired in Richmond. "

Squamata seek prey
guard dogs wander aimlessly
mongooses restless

My condolences to the good, hard working cops in Charlottesville and Albemarle who have to endure what the lunatic left and their judges bring upon our community. Same goes for the victims.

He should be castrated if he is ever let out.

This is the type BS you get from left wing judges.

Ummm, isn't the more obvious point that this was a substitute judge nearing 80 years of age?

And the full name of the judge is...??? The 7th Paragraph of the story starts with a direct quote from him and then a "says Spinella." But no full name for "Spinella" is provided prior to that reference. Perhaps the story was edited, leaving out a paragraph that would have told us: 1) the name of the judge, 2) why he was he sitting in the City and how long had he been retired when we got back on the bench? and 3) where had he served as a sitting judge and how long? Something seems to be missing in this story.

I have to agree with Yes. A senile judge with very poor judgement.

A linked story says it was Joseph Spinella.

Jake, you hit it on the head. "no one has any idea as to what evidence was presented him at trial".
During reconstruction of this country (1863-1877) there was medical research that showed black men had a desire to have sex with white women. There for "hanging of black men for "rape" as some would call it was justified. The medical research was done at our very own University of Virginia.
TO hang a judge or a criminal for something we know little about, throws us back in time.To a time when this country had a lot of maturing to do. Such as some of the people who post on this site. Then again most information accumulated by the citizens of this country comes from the "talking heads" that are seen on the television.

Does anyone know if this guy was in jail when Morgan Harrington was killed? If you look at the sketch from the Fairfax police, there are really some similarities with this guys mugshot!

He should have stayed in school.. he would have made a fine addition to help round out the lacrosse team at UVA.

The system failed. Several offenses after the Greenleaf Park one and he still kept getting off lightly. All serious. Had he gotten substantial time for the Greenleaf Park crime he would not even have been on the streets 2003-2005.
Never was a George Allen supporter but did agree with his parole reform. But that doesnt help much when a dangerous criminal gets a ridiculously light sentence to begin with.
Sexual battery or assault should not be a misdemeanor in the first place.
Maybe we need a new prosecutor in Charlottesville, one who will insist on stiff sentences for these predators and the hoodlum element in general that seems to think it owns the town.

Bullet to the back of the head

His DNA should have been on file from the previous trial, I would think that although they haven't been explicit about it, that is what linked up the two cases (Harrington and the Fairfax one). If so, his DNA must not be a match.....

Thank you for that clarification Just Me. That is a strange case I hope the DNA was checked

It's funny how the comments aren't really about the story.

They're about "Waldo's blog" and its obvious bias. Or they're about "left wing judges" (despite there being no mention or indication of this judge's political leanings, if any).

I would like to comment on the story itself. Lisa Provence has done a great job at writing a sensationalist story. "Judge-freed" is a particularly nice touch in the headline. (As though any other person in the system frees prisoners.)

While the story is explicit regarding the former charge, the result, and the nature of the new charges, there is zero information about the evidence that was presented at trial, or in support of a guilty plea. Was the videotaped confession submitted to the court? What other evidence was there? What evidence in mitigation? What was Haskins' prior record at the time? He was 19 years old. What are his mental illness(es)?

A criminal re-offended. It's not a very nice thing, and we can probably expect stiff punishment this time. There are valuable lessons to learn here, but "put every 19-year-old offender in prison for 40 years" isn't one of them. This story titillates, and begs for reader outrage, but it doesn't ask very persistently that we care about the actual details of the cases in question.

Lastly, the Sheriff comes across as quite the white knight. When's the next election, again?