World Media

Judges draw criticism over rape cases

Jersey judge opts for leniency in rape case arguing teen ‘comes from a good family'

A family court judge in New Jersey has been roundly admonished by the state's appeals court for ruling that a teenager accused of raping an intoxicated girl and then sharing a video of the assault with friends deserved leniency because he came from a "good family", was an Eagle Scout and attended "an excellent school". At one point, according to documents, he texted friends: '[w] hen your first time having sex was rape.' Prosecutors called his actions "sophisticated and predatory" and pushed for him to be waived from the juvenile court system and tried as an adult.

He said that prosecutors should have made it clear to the girl that pressing charges against the boy, who was an eagle scout with good grades, would destroy his life.

The cases were first reported by the radio station New Jersey 101.5 in a story examining a bill that could give lower court judges more discretion in deciding these "juvenile waiver" cases, which opponents say could make it harder for United States prosecutors to win similar appeals in the future.

During a two-hour decision last year as prosecutors sought to trial the 16-year-old boy as an adult, the judge also opined about the the alleged attacker's good prospects. She was eventually driven home by a friend's mother.

Silva ruled that a teen boy carrying a condom did not rise to the level of being "calculated" or "premeditated", as the prosecutors had argued.

In her decision to deny the waiver, Silva wrote that the girl's assault claim, even if true, "is not an especially heinous or cruel offense beyond the elements of the crimes that the waiver statute intends to target".

But the judge's ruling has now been overturned by a higher court.

The judge disputed whether the alleged attack was actually rape.

An appeals court in New Jersey reversed Troiano's decision, criticizing his reference to the juvenile's "good family" and potential to excel at a good college.

This stems from a case in Monmouth County.

Following the appellate court's reversals, the defendants in both cases will now be tried before a grand jury as adults. "As with all cases, we are assessing our next steps, which will include discussions with the victim and her family", he said in a statement.

According to a report from the New York Times, when Monmouth County prosecutors wanted to try the teen as an adult, Superior Court Judge James Troiano rejected their bid, aloud if the incident qualified as sexual assault. "Prior to doing so, I consider all of the relevant factors extremely carefully".

G.M.C.'s attorney, Mitchell J. Ansell, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, the network reported.

The defendant, who hasn't been publicly identified, is now detained in the Juvenile Detention Centre pending a detention hearing in adult court, according to a spokesperson for the prosecution. Again and again, victims advocates have taken on judges who they say prioritize the reputation of a promising young man over the trauma of a young woman. However, after hearing allegations he had passed footage around, Mary's mother pursued criminal charges against him.

Prosecutors say G.M.C. was one of 30 youths who had gathered in a basement for a pajama-themed party in which some attendees were drinking. G.M.C. was drunk and the victim was "visibly drunk", slurring her speech and stumbling as she walked. He was appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court in 1992 and obtained tenured status in 1999, according to Ballotpedia.

While on the sofa, a group of boys sprayed Febreze on Mary's bottom and slapped it with such force that the following day she had hand marks on her buttocks.

As for the sexually explicit messages about the alleged assault that the teen had penned, Troiano said it was "just a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends".

"D$3 o I believe that it shows in any way a calculation or cruelty on his part or sophistication or a predatory nature?" the judge added, according to the network.

The judge also questioned whether the girl was too drunk to remember anything.