A 20-year-old California man will serve less than a year in prison after drugging and sexually assaulting his sister.
Nolan Bruder of Crescent City, California, pleaded guilty to charges that involved forcible administration of marijuana and sexual assault, according to KRCR. Bruder forced his sister, 16, to take hits of high-potency marijuana, also known as "dabs," until she reached a point where she did not recognize Bruder as her brother so that he could have sex with her.
Judge William H. Follett, who presided over the case, stated that since Bruder's sister never lost consciousness and volunteered to take her own clothes off, it would be difficult for a jury to convict him. Video evidence provided by the prosecution showed Bruder admitting to the crime.
Judge Follett sentenced Bruder to three years in prison on May 17, with all but 240 days suspended in favor of probation and a lifetime on the sex offenders registry. Judge Follett believed the stigma of being associated with the sex offenders registry would serve as a lifetime punishment.
Del Norte District Attorney Dale P. Trigg said he "couldn't disagree more" when it comes to Follett's sentencing in this case, and noted that the probation department's own recommendation was six years in prison.
"The message that this sends to our community is that sexual predators who get their juvenile siblings stoned enough can have sex with them without any meaningful consequence," said Triggs. "That is not the message I want to send to our community."
At the sentencing hearing Deputy District Attorney Annamarie Padilla said this case drew comparisons to rapes at college campuses involving drinking and drugs, stating that those found guilty in cases like these are now denied probation, according to the Crescent City Times.
"Whether penetration is accomplished through physical aggression [force] or predatory behavior is a distinction without a difference," said Padilla. "Both perpetrators seek prey that are vulnerable; disadvantaged by his/her capacity to resist."
The case was likened to the case of Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who raped an unconscious woman outside a party and was sentenced to only three months in a local jail.
Following the sentencing in that case, the California Legislature voted to make crimes like these ineligible for probation. Because this crime occurred before the new law, the sentencing rule does not apply.
"In a lot of ways, this case is more egregious than Brock Turner," Trigg said, according to KRCR. "This defendant took advantage of a position of trust as this victim’s big brother."
She noted: "He knew she didn’t want to have sex with him. She told him that repeatedly. So he got her stoned on dabs he gave her until she didn’t even recognize him in order get what he wanted."