LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, Kan. – A Kansas judge has come under fire for saying in court that two girls were partly to blame for what happened to them as he sentenced a sex deviant to prison. The girls, ages 13 and 14, were solicited by an online predator to have sex with him.
“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” Leavenworth County Judge Michael Gibbens said in remarks delivered at a December sentencing for a 67-year-old man who paid for sex with the two girls, according to a report in the Kansas City Star.
The Star reported on Sunday that Gibbens ignored prosecutors in sentencing Raymond Soden to nearly six years in prison. Prosecutors said Soden had a prior conviction for battery and sexual battery. As a result, they asked that he be sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.
The news agency reported that Gibbens explained his reasoning for the more lenient sentence by saying that the two girls went to Soden’s house voluntarily and took money from him for sexual favors.
“They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell,” he said, according to the paper, which obtained a transcript of the sentencing.
Even so, the outrage centers on the convicted man, not the wayward misbehavior of teenagers.
Neither girl showed up for the sentencing. Consequently, that also swayed the judge’s sentence, the paper reported.
A child advocate in Shawnee, Kan., told the paper that the two girls were minors and victims, not the aggressors.
“Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the girls did or didn’t do, he is still the adult and nobody deserves to be taken advantage of sexually,” Michelle Herman said, according to the paper.
In August, Soden pleaded no contest to a charge of electronic solicitation, a felony. Furthermore, he admitted knowing the younger girl was 13.
Calls to the judge by news agencies went unreturned.