12:08, July 03 49 0 theguardian.com

2019-07-03 12:08:05
Teen accused of rape deserves leniency because of his 'good family', judge says

A judge suggested that a teenage boy accused of raping a drunk girl at a party should be treated leniently because he came from “a good family”, and cast doubt on whether such an attack amounted to rape at all.

Judge James Troiano in New Jersey made the remarks while ruling that the boy, who was identified only as “GMC”, should not face trial as an adult for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl while recording the incident on his mobile phone.

“This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well,” Troiano said. “He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.” Troiano, 69, also noted that the boy was an Eagle Scout.

Investigators said GMC sent a clip of the alleged rape to seven of his friends, and later sent a text adding: “When your first time having sex is rape.” Yet Troiano suggested that, in his view, the alleged incident was a sexual assault rather than a rape.

Troiano’s remarks, which he delivered at a family court hearing in July 2018, were highlighted this week in a sharply worded overturning of his decision by an appeals court. Prosecutors told NJ1015.com they would now seek an indictment from a grand jury so they may prosecute GMC as an adult.

Prosecutors had alleged that GMC’s attack had been “sophisticated and predatory” and that he showed “calculated and cruel” behaviour by filming the incident, sharing the footage and then lying about it.

Adult cases are heard by a jury and typically involve harsher punishments for those convicted. Records of juvenile cases are largely kept secret from the public.

But Troiano refused, pointing to GMC’s background and saying that, in his view, a “traditional case of rape” involved more than one attacker using a weapon to take advantage of a victim in a remote location.

The judge also cast doubt on allegations GMC’s victim was too drunk to understand what was happening, asserting that she “walked hand-in-hand” with GMC to a basement area where the alleged rape took place.

And he dismissed the significance of GMC’s boastful text messages, describing this as “just a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends”.

The appeals court panel said Troiano had exceeded his role and “decided the case for himself” rather than properly reviewing the application by prosecutors to try GMC as an adult.

In one drily scathing passage, the appeals court judges said they hoped juveniles would not be made to stand trial as adults if they “do not come from good families and do not have good test scores”.

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