Judge under scrutiny after arguing teen accused of rape deserved leniency because he’s from ‘good family’

A family court judge in New Jersey has been admonished by an appeals court after it was found that he rejected a bid to try a 16-year-old boy who had been accused of rape as an adult, citing reasons like the defendant’s “good family” and his high test scores.

In an appellate ruling from last month that was only recently picked up by The New York Times and local outlets, an appeals court blasted Superior Court Judge James Troiano for denying the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office a waiver to elevate a rape case involving two 16-year-old students to adult court.

{mosads}The case stems from an incident in which a 16-year-old boy, identified as G.M.C. in the case, allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl, identified by the alias Mary, at a pajama-themed party in 2017.

According to court documents, the two had both been intoxicated at the party, where approximately 30 adolescents were said to have been in attendance.

After engaging in what had been described by the judge as “heavy petting,” the two allegedly went off to a “closed off darkened area” of a basement, court documents state. Mary was said to have been “visibly drunk, her speech was slurred, and she stumbled as she walked.”

“While on the sofa, a group of boys sprayed Febreze on Mary’s bottom and slapped it with such force that the following day she had hand marks on her buttocks,” documents state. “Mary and G.M.C. had intercourse in the darkened room. G.M.C. filmed himself penetrating Mary from behind on his cell phone, displaying her bare torso, and her head hanging down. He forwarded the clip to several friends; only one said it showed Mary’s head hitting repeatedly against the wall.”

Shortly after the alleged assault, the boy reportedly left the room, where Mary was later found vomiting on the floor.

The day after the party, documents said Mary told her mother that she feared “sexual things had happened at the party” and that she didn’t understand how she “could have gotten bruise marks on her body or how her clothing had torn.”

According to court documents, days after the alleged assault, G.M.C. sent the following text to his friends: “When your first time having sex was rape.” He also allegedly sent his associates video of the alleged assault.

Mary repeatedly told G.M.C. that she “was more interested in putting the episode behind her than anything else,” documents allege. However, G.M.C. allegedly denied having the recording and said his friends were lying about the video. 

“When Mary learned that G.M.C. had continued to disseminate the clip, her mother contacted the authorities. At that point the family’s focus was the destruction of the film,” court documents say. “Unfortunately, after securing clearance from his sergeant, the first investigating officer urged G.M.C. and his friends to all delete the video, which apparently they did.”

Mary’s family then pursued criminal charges, shortly after which prosecutors at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office sought for a waiver to have the case tried in adult court, arguing the teenage boy’s alleged actions were “sophisticated and predatory.”

However, Troiano argued the boy, whom he noted had been an Eagle Scout, came from “a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well … He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.”

He also expressed concerns that the prosecutor “did not indicate in the memorandum that she had explained to Mary and her mother the devastating effect a waiver would have on G.M.C.’s life,” according to the appellate ruling.

“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,” Troiano said, adding: “I really saw nothing that stood out to me that would substantiate that she was led into the back. The terms that were used were they walked hand in hand.” 

As a result, the appellate court ruled that “in denying waiver, the trial court minutely considered the circumstances of the offense, made an independent assessment of the juvenile’s culpability, and considered G.M.C.’s prior good character and ‘the input of the victim or the victim’s family.’ “

“His consideration of these elements, however, sounded as if he had conducted a bench trial on the charges rather than neutrally reviewed the State’s application,” the court added.


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