BOSTON – A former state prosecutor who secured a civil rights injunction against a young Mark Wahlberg after he hurled rocks and racial epithets at black schoolchildren says he shouldn’t be pardoned for attacks on two Asian men two years later.
Judith Beals, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, said Tuesday she believes in “forgiveness and reconciliation” but Wahlberg’s request should be denied because he hasn’t acknowledged the racial element of his crimes in documents he filed with the state last November.
“That acknowledgement of the crime and that facing of history is absolutely critical in the issuing of a pardon,” she said.
Wahlberg, who became a rapper and then an A-list actor nominated for an Oscar, acknowledged in his pardon application that he was high on marijuana and drugs at the time. He said he’s dedicated himself to becoming a better person as an adult.
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“I’ve been looking for redemption (since) the day I woke up and realized that I done some horrific things and was on a path of self-destruction, as well as causing a lot of people harm,” Wahlberg, 43, said in a December interview. “When I decided to go and petition for a pardon, it wasn’t based on the things I accomplished in my career. It’s been the things I’ve been able to do in my personal life: giving back to the community and helping kids, especially inner-city kids and at-risk youth and kids growing up in that same situation.”
Wahlberg wants to be officially cleared of a 1988 incident in which he hit a Vietnamese man in the head with a wooden stick while trying to steal alcohol from a convenience store. Wahlberg, then 16, punched another Vietnamese man in the face while trying to avoid police.
He ended up being convicted as an adult of assault and other charges and was sentenced to three months in jail. He was released after about 45 days.
Beals said what made Wahlberg’s 1988 crimes unique was that, just two years earlier, he had been issued a court order triggering criminal charges in the event he committed another hate crime.
According to court filings in that 1986 case, which Beals prosecuted, Wahlberg and two white friends chased three black siblings in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, throwing rocks and yelling racial epithets.
The following day, Wahlberg and a larger group of white friends harassed a group of mostly black fourth-graders until an ambulance driver intervened.
Beals argued that Wahlberg’s status and wealth should not place him in a better position than others to erase his misdeeds. She also suggested hate crimes should be held to a higher standard.
Representatives for Wahlberg, whose movies include “Boogie Nights” and “Lone Survivor,” didn’t return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
The state parole board has to hold a hearing on the request by Wahlberg and send a recommendation to the governor, who decides whether to issue a pardon. Final say then rests with the Governor’s Council, an elected body.
Governors generally don’t make pardon decisions until they’re leaving office. Former Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, issued just four in the final days of his eight-year tenure. His predecessor, Mitt Romney, a Republican, never issued one.
Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, took office this month.