Judge under fire for rape sentence, implying victim was promiscuous
DALLAS — She could have sentenced him to 20 years in prison after he admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl in her high school.
Instead, a Texas judge gave the defendant a 45-day sentence and five years of probation after implying that the victim was promiscuous.
Judge Jeanine Howard told The Dallas Morning News that she based the sentence, in part, on medical records indicating that the girl had had three sexual partners and had given birth.
She told the newspaper that the victim “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be” and said the defendant, 20-year-old Sir Young, “is not your typical sex offender.”
Critics fear the decision could discourage other victims from reporting rapes.
“We’re certainly concerned about the message that’s being sent to victims of sexual assault,” said Andrea Moseley, chief prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
“We expect that our victims will be protected and that their reputations will be protected and that they will feel safe in coming forward and reporting these crimes.”
Young was convicted of sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony.
But it wasn’t just the sentence that drew criticism; it was the type of community service Young was also sentenced to.
Young, who was a schoolmate of the victim’s when the rape occurred in 2011, was ordered to serve 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center. The center later said he was not welcome there.
“I don’t believe (Judge Howard) understands what we do. If she would have called us prior to issuing the conditions of probation, we would have told her and explained what we do at the center and how that’s not possible,” Bobbie Villareal, director of the Dallas Rape Crisis Center, told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”
It would be inappropriate to have a convicted rapist at a center that focuses on survivors, she said.
“It’s against our policies,” she told CNN.
Young’s defense attorney, Scottie Allen, told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday that he felt the sentence was “fair and appropriate” given the circumstances, and he agreed with Howard that his client wasn’t a normal sex offender.
“What we have here is an 18-year-old high school student who was very talented, very gifted,” Allen said, adding that Young had scholarship offers from a “couple of universities.”
Allen further claimed that the victim had agreed to have sex with Young, just not on campus, and “upon making this bad judgment, he admitted that he proceeded over her objections to stop, and he admitted that to the police.”
“We don’t think that he qualifies as your typical sex offender. This is not somebody who has preyed on some young kids or unsuspecting people.”
Howard also sentenced Young to serve 24 hours in jail each year on October 4, the date of the rape, during his probation. And he will have register as a sex offender when he is released from his 45-day jail sentence.
According to WFAA, the judge initially included standard language of probation for sex offenders, only to remove those conditions on Wednesday.
HLN reached out to the judge for comment, but she recused herself from the case on Friday without public comment. CNN’s Anderson Cooper reached out to Howard to ask if she would come on CNN but didn’t hear back.
A new judge will oversee the case moving forward, including a motion filed by prosecutors to add more restrictive requirements to Young’s probation.
The victim told WFAA she was devastated by the sentencing.
“I was shocked that a judge, someone that I trusted with this case, would go behind my back, would go and find records and make these allegations that she knows nothing about,” she said.
Meanwhile, Young is serving his 45-day jail sentence. If he compiles with the terms of his five-year probation, he won’t have a conviction on his record.