A family court judge in New Jersey has been sternly rebuked by an appeals court after calling for leniency for an accused teenage rapist because he came from a “good family,” The New York Times reports.
According to prosecutors, the victim in the case, a 16-year-old girl, was intoxicated when the boy, a drunk 16-year-old, sexually assaulted her in a basement during a party in New Jersey. He filmed himself penetrating her from behind, then shared the cellphone video with friends and sent a text that said, “When your first time having sex was rape.”
The family court judge, however, said it wasn’t rape. As the Times reports, the judge defined rape as more of an attack by strangers at gunpoint. He also said the boy came from a “good family” and attended an “excellent school,” where he was doing “extremely well.” He said prosecutors should have explained to the girl and her family that pressing charges would ruin the boy’s life.
“He is clearly a candidate for not just college, but probably for a good college,” Judge James Troiano of Superior Court said last year while sitting in Monmouth County, according to the Times. “His scores for college entry were very high.” He denied the prosecutors’ motion to try the 16-year-old boy as an adult.
Now the judge has been slapped by an appeals court, in a ruling that warned him against showing bias toward privileged teens. The appeals court cleared the way for the case to be moved from family court to a grand jury, where the teen, identified as G.M.C. in court documents, will be treated as an adult, according to the Times. The grand jury will decide whether to indict him.
Judges across the country have faced criticism in recent years for their handling of sexual assault cases. A judge in California gave a Stanford University student a notoriously light sentence in 2016 after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. After a national outcry, California voters recalled the judge.
Judge Troiano is one of two family court judges to come under recent fire from New Jersey appeals courts.
In the other case, the appellate court rebuked a judge and reversed her decision not to try a 16-year-old boy as an adult after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in 2017, according to the Times. The judge in that case, Marcia Silva, sitting in Middlesex County, said, “Beyond losing her virginity, the state did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental, or emotional.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.