We need to take rape victims seriously. This is a good start.
Sometimes, a week of internet outrage actually accomplishes something good. Last week, I wrote about the NJ judge who refused to try a teenage rapist as an adult because he “came from a good family.” Yesterday, Judge James Troiano of Monmouth County, N.J. resigned from the bench “effective immediately” according to State Supreme Court Chief JusticeStuart Rabner.
What was particularly outrageous about this case was that the rapist FILMED his attack and then sent copies to his friends. Most rape cases, especially in cases where the rapist and victim no each other, issues of consent arise. Victims who had been drinking may have fuzzy memories. Sometimes they’re traumatized. Sometimes witnesses lie to cover up their own involvement. But when you have ACTUAL VIDEOTAPE of the incident, it’s a slam dunk. There is no question that this young man is guilty, regardless of how good of a family he comes from.
An appeals court overturned Judge Troiano’s decision, so this budding rapist/video enthusiast will indeed be tried as an adult. Unfortunately for the good people of New Jersey, they’ll still be paying retirement pension for this misguided judge.
Chief Justice Stuart also announced removal of a second judge. Superior Court Judge John Russo Jr. of Ocean County, N.J. has been suspended without pay from his job over statements to a rape victim asking “Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you? Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?”
In announcing these decisions, Judge Rabner wrote:
“Sexual assault is an act of violence. It terrorizes, degrades, and induces fear in victims. Without question, it is a most serious matter in which fault lies solely with the perpetrator, not the victim. And our State has a strong interest in protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.”
If we want women to report sexual assault to the authorities, and if we want these cases to be handled in REAL courts, then the real judges need to follow the rule of law instead of disparaging the victims and sympathizing with the accused.
Critics have also called for the removal of Judge Marcia Silva who ruled this year that a 16-year-old boy’s alleged sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl was not considered “an especially heinous or cruel offense” and that he should not be tried as an adult.
We still have too many judges, police and attorneys who don’t take sexual assault seriously. But at least the removal of judges Troiano and Russo is a good start.