Wealthy du Point heir Robert H. Richards IV was sentenced to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter, with a Delaware Superior Court judge writing that he needed treatment instead of prison time.
Court records show that Judge Jan Jurden’s order stated that Richards “will not fare well” in a level 5 prison and so should instead receive treatment.
Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O'Neill told the Delaware News Journal that the decision was likely to prompt skepticism about "how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system."
Richards, who is unemployed and lives off of his family’s trust fund, just came into the public eye after being sued for damages in 2009 by his ex-wife for the fourth-degree rape of their daughter.
At five years old, the couple's daughter told her grandmother, Donna Burg, that her father had abused her and told her it was “our little secret.” She said she didn’t want "my daddy touching me anymore."
Richards had abused his daughter in the bedrooms of her mother and brother in the family’s mansion, according to the 2007 arrest warrant.
Richards’ ex-wife Tracy also accused him of abusing their infant son during the same period, but investigators found that there was not enough evidence to press charges. They will review the allegations again, police say.
Criminal justice authorities in Delaware questioned Jurden’s decision—one that usually applies to drug addicts, not child rapists.
Defense lawyer Michael W. Modica was baffled by the judge’s ruling that Richards should go to treatment in lieu of doing time because prison would be an unhealthy environment for him.
"I've never heard of the judge saying in general that he is not going to do well," Modica said. "Who thrives in jail?"
Kendall Marlowe, executive director of National Association for Counsel for Children, said that children should be “safeguarded” from abuse at all costs.
"Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system's inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook,” Marlowe said.