Judge rebuked for saying Eagle Scout from a ‘good family’ deserved leniency on rape charge – Washington Examiner
A judge is being admonished by an appeals court for saying a 16-year-old boy should get leniency after he allegedly sent a video of himself penetrating a heavily intoxicated girl with the message, “When your first time having sex was rape.”
Last year, New Jersey Superior Court Judge James Troiano denied prosecutors’ request to try the teen as an adult. He argued that the act might not be rape, but rather sexual assault and pointed out that the boy in question, identified in court documents as G.M.C., had good grades and was an Eagle Scout.
“He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college,” the roughly 70-year-old Troiano said in the two-hour decision.
In a 14-page ruling, an appeals court in the state tore into Troiano’s decision and reasoning, warning that the judge showed bias in how he treated the teenager. The ruling paves the way for the case to be moved from family court to a grand jury, where the juvenile would be treated as an adult.
The teen is accused of attending an alcohol-fueled pajama party along with a 16-year-old girl, known in court documents as “Mary,” and about 30 of their peers. Prosecutors say the girl, visibly drunk, was brought into a dark area of the basement by multiple boys and slapped on the buttocks a number of times causing bruising.
After that, G.M.C. is alleged to have filmed a video of himself penetrating Mary from behind, her head dangling down, bare torso exposed. When Mary woke up the next morning, she told her mother she didn’t remember what had happened, but noted the bruising and torn clothes, and wondered if “sexual things had happened at the party” without her consent.
For months it is alleged G.M.C. shared the video with his friends, but he has denied that was the case, according to court documents.
In September 2017, the Monmouth County prosecutor’s office said that he should be charged as an adult in criminal rather than family court because the teen’s actions were “sophisticated and predatory.”
“At the time he led Mary into the basement gym, she was visibly intoxicated and unable to walk without stumbling,” the prosecutor wrote. “For the duration of the assault, the lights in the gym remained off and the door was barred by a foosball table. Filming a cellphone video while committing the assault was a deliberate act of debasement.”
In July 2018, Troiano denied the request to try G.M.C. as an adult. He argued that the “traditional case of rape” involves a man or males using a gun or weapon in a remote location, “and just simply taking advantage of the person as well as beating the person, threatening the person.”
The appeals court strongly disagreed with Troiano’s decision, writing in the ruling, “In denying waiver, the trial court minutely considered the circumstances of the offense, made an independent assessment of the juvenile’s culpability, and considered G.M.C.’s prior good character and ‘the input of the victim or the victim’s family.’”
“His consideration of these elements, however, sounded as if he had conducted a bench trial on the charges rather than neutrally reviewed the State’s application,” the court added.