Two New Jersey judges have been slammed for how they handled rape cases.
One judge, Monmouth County Judge James Troiano, asked whether the accused, a 16-year-old Eagle Scout “from a good family” should face serious consequences for assaulting an intoxicated teenager. The boy had recorded the incident.
The second judge, Middlesex County Judge Marcia Silva, questioned whether a 12-year-old girl’s loss of virginity during her assault constituted serious harm.
In his opinion, Judge Troiano wrote that the boy charged with assaulting the 16-year-old girl at a pajama party had good test scores and was destined to attend a top college.
According to an appeals court decision, the teenager had sent a video of the assault, with a text that read: “(w)hen your first time having sex was rape.”
In the opinion, Troiano stated that the encounter was different from “the traditional case of rape,” where “two or more males” attack at gunpoint. Regarding the text, he claimed that it was just “a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends.”
He wrote that the “young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well. … He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.”
In the other New Jersey case, Judge Silva stated that the alleged sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl by a 16-year-old was “not an especially heinous or cruel offense.”
According to an appeals court ruling, she wrote that the victim had stated that the 16-year-old “pushed her, grabbed her hands, removed her clothing and penetrated her without consent, causing her to lose her virginity.”
Judge Silva continued: “However, beyond losing her virginity, the State did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental or emotional.”
In both cases, the judges declined requests that the boys be tried in adult court, but the appeals court sent the decisions back for reconsideration.
Teresa Younger, the president and chief executive officer of the Ms. Foundation for Women, stated that cases like these showed how the system chose defendants over victims - even when the judge is female.
“Survivors’ worst fears are coming to life. They’re fearful of victim blaming or having the crimes committed against them be minimized,” Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, stated.
She added that the judges’ comments retraumatize victims and “tend to have a chilling effect on all survivors contemplating coming forward.”
Sources: America Now