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Dart Award Winner

Rape in a Small Town

To Our Readers

In October 2002, Nicholas C. Plante, of Burrillville, was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow high school student the year before, when he was 17 and she was 15.

In October 2002, Nicholas C. Plante, of Burrillville, was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow high school student the year before, when he was 17 and she was 15.

Reporter Kate Bramson covered Plante's sentencing, at which Superior Court Judge Edward C. Clifton called the case a nightmare for both families. The judge also noted that it had "splintered" the community.

Bramson met the young woman and her parents at the sentencing and interviewed them briefly. Later, they agreed to extensive interviews and debated about whether they wanted to be identified in the newspaper with their full names. (The Journal's policy is to not identify victims of first-degree sexual assault.)

In the end, they agreed that Laura would be identified by her first name and that her parents' names would not be used, to protect her from identification by inference.

They are aware that many in the community know who they are. However, they felt this agreement would allow them to maintain a degree of privacy.

Nicholas Plante declined to be interviewed. During a two-hour interview, his parents declined to talk about Laura or their son's trial.

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Kate Bramson

  • Kate Bramson, a 1993 graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, has been on the Providence Journal reporting staff since August, 2002. Prior to joining the Journal, she was the education writer for the Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota. From October, 1995 to Feburary, 1997, she was news editor for Budapest Week and The Budapest Sun in Hungary.

Bob Thayer

  • Bob Thayer is an award-winning feature photographer who has been on the Providence Journal staff since 1978. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the Columbia School of Journalism.

Mimi Burkhardt

  • Mimi Burkhardt has served in several roles since joining the Providence Journal's copy desk in 1980. She has been night metro editor, an assistant city editor, and a projects editor. For the past three years she has been a training editor, working closely with the newspaper's two-year interns and other reporters on the state staff. It was in her role as a consultive editor she worked with Kate Bramson on the award-winning story.

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