A petition has amassed some 14,000 signatures with the aim of removing a Montana judge from the bench for what many view as far-too-lenient a sentence for a heinous sex crime.
Montana District Judge John McKeon handed down what amounts to a 60-day jail sentence to a man who was found guilty of repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter.
The prosecutor in the case recommended a 100-year prison sentence with 75 years suspended, as called for in state law.
Judge McKeon, instead, sentenced the man to the jail time, plus a 30-year suspended prison term last week as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
"Judge McKeon did not uphold the responsibility of ensuring justice as he is required to in his elected position," the petition, which has been sent to state officials in Montana, reads in part.
In his defense, McKeon cites the support the defendant had from his family, friends, church and employer.
McKeon said state law allows an exception to mandatory minimum sentencing in a case like this if it "affords a better opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender and for the ultimate protection of the victim and society.”
According to the Associated Press, the girl’s mother and grandmother were reportedly among those supporting a community-based punishment.
Noting that no one from the family testified in the case, the petition said, "The victim was not given justice, but instead will have to live with the fear that she still has to face her rapist in their community."
"It is time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets," the petition reads. "Judge McKeon is retiring very soon and does NOT deserve to collect retirement from the people of Montana. He did not fulfil the duties of the position we elected him for. He acted without respect for the laws of the state of Montana."