Anna Sheffer
July 18, 2019 8:20 am

Trigger warning: This post discusses rape allegations.

Update, July 18th, 11:15 a.m.: EDT: James Troiano, the judge who sought leniency for an accused rapist because of his ties to a “good family” and his candidacy for “a good college” has resigned, according to The New York Times. His resignation comes after a public outcry across the country for him to step down for his rape-apologist comments. Troiano will reportedly keep his pension.

Wednesday, July 17th, The Supreme Court of New Jersey also announced that it was implementing mandatory training for judges in “the areas of sexual assault, domestic violence, implicit bias, and diversity.”

“The programs also will train judges in effective communication skills that will aid them in delivering clear decisions that are rooted in the law, respectful of victims, and understandable to the public while protecting the rights of the accused,” said Glenn A. Grant, the acting administrative director of the courts, said in a statement to The New York Times.

Even after movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up, it remains frustratingly common for men (and boys) accused of rape to escape consequences. Sometimes, like in the case of Brock Turner, a convicted rapist receives only a light punishment because of his “potential” or his “bright future.” Sadly, this keeps happening. In a recent New Jersey case, a judge sought leniency for an accused rapist because of his “good family” and grades.

The New York Times reports that in a 2018 family court decision, Judge James Troiano of Superior Court advocated for a 16-year-old accused with rape, denying prosecutors’ motion to try the teen as an adult. According to the Times, in his decision, Troiano observed that the boy was from a good family, did well in school, and was an Eagle Scout, and he worried about how the rape charges would affect the boy’s future.

The judge also reportedly debated whether the teen’s actions constituted rape, attempting to distinguish rape from sexual assault. His reasoning was that rape “generally” involves perpetrators who attack at “gunpoint” or use weapons to threaten their victims. According to a local radio station, New Jersey 101.5, the defendant, identified as G.M.C., allegedly filmed himself penetrating a drunk girl from behind and sent the video to his friends. In his text message, he reportedly wrote, “When your first time having sex was rape.”

But Troiano did not have the last word. In June, a local appeals court overturned the judge’s decision in a new ruling. As a result, the New Jersey rape case will be heard before a grand jury, and the accused, G.M.C. will be tried as an adult. The Times notes that the judge’s comments first became public after the appeals court’s ruling.

It’s appalling to see a judge arguing that an accused rapist should get let off easily just because of his academic track record. We need to believe women, and we need to end this cycle of excuses.

If you have been sexually assaulted or know someone else who has, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Originally posted on July 7th.

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