Teen accused of rape was from a ‘good family,’ said U.S. judge in overturned ruling
WARNING: Disturbing content. Reader discretion is advised.
The New Jersey judge overseeing a request to try a teen as an adult in a rape case was rebuked by a higher court after he denied the application, saying the accused was an Eagle Scout who came from a “good family.”
Judge James Troiano of the Superior Court of New Jersey oversaw a hearing in Monmouth County last year after prosecutors filed a waiver motion that would have seen the 16-year-old tried as an adult, the New York Times reported.
The state of New Jersey allows teens to be tried as adults when they’re at least 15 years old and when they’ve been accused of serious crimes.
The case concerned a teen, identified in court documents only as “G.M.C.,” who attended a party in a basement alongside about 30 other people.
There, he encountered a 16-year-old girl identified only as “Mary,” according to the appeals court decision.
The pair engaged in what the judge called “heavy petting” before they walked into a “closed-off darkened area,” the documents state.
“G.M.C., who had no prior delinquency history, was drunk,” the judge wrote.
“Mary was also visibly drunk, her speech was slurred, and she stumbled as she walked.”
According to court documents, a group of boys sprayed Febreze on Mary’s posterior and slapped her there, hitting with so much force that she had “hand marks” on her bottom the next day.
Intercourse took place between Mary and G.M.C. in the darkened room, the latter filming on a cellphone as he penetrated her from behind, the judge wrote.
G.M.C. then allegedly forwarded the video to friends. One friend who saw the video related that it showed Mary’s head hitting a wall numerous times, according to court documents.
“In the days following the incident, G.M.C. sent the following text to his friends: ‘[w]hen your first time having sex was rape,” the decision read.
Court documents state that G.M.C. then left the room, and some of his friends checked on Mary and found that she was sick.
She was vomiting on the floor and remained sick until a friend’s mother drove her home, the documents allege.
Mary told her mother the following morning that she feared “sexual things had happened at the party” but “did not understand how she could have gotten bruise marks on her body or how her clothing had torn,” the judge wrote.
Over the following few months, Mary found out that the video had been circulated among G.M.C.’s friends and their acquaintances, according to court documents. The documents allege Mary repeatedly told G.M.C. she just wanted to move on from the incident, but G.M.C. denied having the recording.
When it was discovered the video was still allegedly being shared, Mary’s mother contacted police.
“At that point, the family’s focus was the destruction of the film,” the decision reads. “Unfortunately, after securing clearance from his sergeant, the first investigating officer urged G.M.C. and his friends to delete the video, which apparently they did.”
Mary’s family pursued criminal charges. Shortly after, Monmouth County prosecutors recommended that the case be tried in adult court, arguing the teen’s actions were “sophisticated and predatory.”
“This was neither a childish misinterpretation of the situation, nor was it a misunderstanding,” the prosecutor wrote.
“[G.M.C.’s] behaviour was calculated and cruel.”
Troiano ultimately denied the waiver.
In his decision, Troiano argued that the teen came from a good family and scored high in school. He also detailed G.M.C.’s “extracurricular activities,” the documents show, including his time as an Eagle Scout.
“He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high,” Troiano said in court.
In response to the sexually explicit text messages G.M.C. and his friends reportedly sent about the incident, Troiano said it “doesn’t make a lot of difference.”
“The whole paragraph to me is just a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap this friend,” he said.
Troiano also pointed to the prosecutor, saying that in her memorandum, there was no indication that she explained to Mary and her family the “devastating effect” pressing charges “would have on G.M.C.’s life.”
While he did not dispute that Mary had been drinking, Troiano couldn’t say “whether she was extremely intoxicated or not.”
“I think it’s an issue here, whether or not this young lady was intoxicated to the point that she didn’t understand what was going on,” he said. “Her position really has been that she doesn’t remember much of what happened.”
He went on to say he “saw nothing” that would back up Mary’s claim that she was led into the darkened room at the party.
“Whether or not the state can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt is a question best left to another day,” Troiano wrote.
Troiano’s ruling was reversed last month by the state’s appellate court.
“That the juvenile came from a good family and had good test scores we would not condemn the juveniles who do not come from good families and do not have good test scores from withstanding waiver applications,” the appeal court judges wrote in the decision.
The judges found Troiano did not properly weigh the merits of the waiver and appeared to decide the case for himself.
According to court documents, the judges believe that Troiano’s assessment of G.M.C’s “culpability” and “prior good character” as well as Mary’s version of the events “sounded as if he (judge) had conducted a bench trial on the charges rather than neutrally reviewed the state’s application.”
The ruling means the case will move from family court to a jury, which will decide whether the teen will be indicted on sexual assault charges as an adult.
After the reversal, Troiano signed an order waiving the respective defendants to adult court, court officials told local New Jersey media.
Source: Read Full Article