A New Jersey judge has come under fire for reportedly being lenient toward a teenager accused of raping a girl because of his apparent good reputation and standing in the community, according to a report.
Judge James Troiano of Superior Court was admonished by New Jersey’s appeals court after questioning if a girl who said she was raped by a 16-year-old defendant, identified in court documents as G.M.C., understood “the devastating effect” her pressing charges would have on “G.M.C.’s life,” the HuffPost reported.
Troiano said in the documents rape “tradition[ally]” involved two or more males threatening a victim with a weapon in an “abandon[ed] house,” “shed” or “shack,” while saying the defendant was "clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college.”
He also took into consideration the defendant’s background, writing in his decision that G.M.C. “comes from a good family who put him in an excellent school where he was doing extremely well.”
G.M.C. was accused of raping a highly intoxicated 16-year-old girl from behind at a dark basement party in New Jersey.
He also filmed the attack, according to prosecutors, who said the defendant went on to share the footage of the assault with his friends with a text message that read, “When your first time having sex was rape.”
Though he allegedly denied sharing the video when confronted by the victim, the defendant allegedly continued to do so for months, prosecutors said, calling his actions the night of the alleged rape and thereafter “both sophisticated and predatory.”
“Filming a cellphone video while committing the assault was a deliberate act of debasement,” the prosecutor wrote. “And, in the months that followed, he lied to [the alleged victim] while simultaneously disseminating the video and unabashedly sharing the nature of his conduct therein. This was neither a childish misinterpretation of the situation, nor was it a misunderstanding. G.M.C.’s behavior was calculated and cruel.”
Though prosecutors wanted to try the defendant as an adult, Troiano denied the waiver, saying the texts he sent to his friends were “just a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends.”
The state’s appellate court disagreed with Troiano’s assessment and last month reversed his ruling.
“That the juvenile came from a good family and had good test scores we assume would not condemn the juveniles who do not come from good families and do not have good test scores from withstanding waiver application,” the panel wrote, according to the HuffPost.
G.M.C. will now be tried before a grand jury as an adult.
“We subscribe to the idea that the juvenile system is supposed to be rehabilitative,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni told The New York Times. “But when you’re dealing with charges as serious as these, it’s a whole different ball of wax.”