2 Judges’ Comments, Handling Of Rape Cases Draw Criticism

Jul 3, 2019, 5:49 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm

FILE photo...

FILE photo

Two New Jersey judges have come under fire for their handling of rape cases, one for asking whether a 16-year-old Eagle Scout “from a good family” should face serious consequences over a video-recorded assault on an intoxicated teenager.

Another judge asked whether a 12-year-old girl’s loss of virginity constituted serious harm.

The comments, which follow other cases of perceived leniency toward sex offenders from privileged backgrounds, led victim advocates to question whether judges are sufficiently qualified and trained to handle sex assault cases in the #MeToo era.

“Survivors’ worst fears are coming to life. They’re fearful of victim blaming or having the crimes committed against them be minimized,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Monmouth County Judge James Troiano said in his opinion that the Eagle Scout charged with assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a pajama party had good test scores and was on track to attend a top college.

According to an appeals court decision last month, the teenager sent friends a video of him having sexual intercourse with the girl, along with a text, saying: “(w)hen your first time having sex was rape.”

Troiano called the encounter different from “the traditional case of rape,” where “two or more males” attack someone at gunpoint. And he attributed the text to “a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends.”

The judge 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.”

Lawyer Debra Katz said Troiano was redefining the legal standard for rape and should be removed from the bench.

Troiano, a retired judge who serves part time, did not return calls seeking comment made to his home Wednesday by The Associated Press. A message left with a court spokesman was not returned.

Troiano has drawn comparisons to Aaron Persky, the California judge who presided over a notorious rape case against a Stanford University student and who lost his job in a recall election last year. Persky had sentenced swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman near a dumpster. Turner ended up serving just three months.

“I think that what we saw clearly with Judge Persky last year is that people who come from privilege are given a pass in very serious cases of rape,” said Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in her Senate testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. “What’s so remarkable in this case is … it was a clear admission, and of course there was a videotape.”

In the other recent New Jersey case, Middlesex County Judge Marcia Silva said 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 , the judge wrote that the victim said the 16-year-old pushed her, grabbed her hands, removed her clothing and penetrated her without consent, causing her to lose her virginity. The judge continued: “However, beyond losing her virginity, the State did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental or emotional.”

Silva did not return a message left with her office Wednesday. In both cases, the judges ordered the boys tried in juvenile court, before the appeals court sent them back for reconsideration.

Teresa Younger, the president and chief executive officer of the Ms. Foundation, said cases like these show the deference often shown to defendants over victims — even when the judge, like Silva, is female.

“There’s no comment about whether she came from a good family,” Younger said of the pajama party victim. “(And) she may not get great grades because she’s carrying this trauma in her body.”

According to Teffenhart, there’s no mandatory training for New Jersey judges on sex assault cases, despite changing laws, including one this year that gave victims more time to sue.

The judges’ comments, she said, retraumatize victims and “tend to have a chilling effect on all survivors contemplating coming forward.”

Marsha Levick, co-founder of the Juvenile Law Center, called Troiano’s comments “ignorant and sexist and appalling,” but she does not necessarily think the case belongs in adult court.

She believes that rape and other serious cases can be fairly adjudicated in juvenile court if judges are properly trained. In most states, juvenile offenders can be detained or supervised until age 21, while they might face much longer terms for sexual assault in adult court.

“This case may also underscore how important it is to have judges serve in juvenile court (who are) well trained in aspects of adolescent development, and the many ways we can hold young people accountable for their crimes,” she said.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE: apple watch...

Associated Press

Woman rescued from outhouse toilet after climbing in to retrieve Apple Watch, Michigan police say

A woman was rescued Tuesday from an outhouse toilet in northern Michigan after she climbed in to retrieve her Apple Watch and became trapped.

14 hours ago

An error message is displayed on a machine at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. MGM ...

Associated Press

Normal operations return to MGM Resorts 10 days after cyberattack, casino company says

Casino company MGM Resorts International says it has restored computer systems at properties across the U.S.

15 hours ago

FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output fr...

Hillel Italie, AP National Writer H

John Grisham, George R.R. Martin and more authors sue OpenAI for copyright infringement

John Grisham, Jodi Picoult and George R.R. Martin are among 17 authors suing OpenAI for “systematic theft on a mass scale.”

17 hours ago

FILE - Andrew Lester appears in court to answer charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal ...

Associated Press

Man who shot Black teen who mistakenly went to his door enters not guilty plea; trial is scheduled

A white 84-year-old homeowner who is accused of shooting a Black teenager after the high-schooler mistakenly came to his home entered a not guilty plea.

20 hours ago

Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn in at the start of a House Judiciary Committee hearing, W...

Farnoush Amiri and Lindsay Whitehurst

GOP lawmakers clash with Attorney General Garland over Hunter Biden investigation

House Republicans have clashed with Attorney General Merrick Garland, accusing him of the “weaponization” of its work under President Joe Biden.

20 hours ago

[FILE] Jail Handcuffs (KSL-TV)...

Associated Press

Utah private prison company returns $5M to Mississippi after understaffing is found at facilities

A Utah-based private prison company has returned $5.1 million to the Mississippi Department of Corrections after an investigation found it failed to provide enough workers at prisons it was operating

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

2 Judges’ Comments, Handling Of Rape Cases Draw Criticism