A Montana man raped his 12-year-old daughter repeatedly, and the judge sentenced him to spend only 60 days in prison. The ruling has evoked a strong reaction on social media, with many criticizing the judge, John McKeon, for giving the lenient sentence and setting a wrong precedent for perpetrators of similar crimes.
Tristate Update reports that Martin Joseph Blake, a 40-year-old man living in Montana’s Glasgow country, was charged with three felony counts of incest for raping his 12-year daughter on multiple occasions. Blake pleaded guilty to one felony charge as part of a plea deal, which requested a 100-year sentence for the Montana man, as per the state law, with 75 years suspended. If the recommendation was accepted, the man would have had to spend 25 years in prison.
Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen told Judge McKeon that the man should face the harshest prison sentence for raping his 12-year-old daughter repeatedly.
“A father repeatedly raped his 12-year-old daughter,” Jensen said during the sentencing hearing.
But it appears the request fell on deaf ears, as Judge McKeon cited the support the Montana man had from his family, friends and his community. The Glasgow Courier reported that the mother and the grandmother of the victim were among those who spoke in favor of a community-based punishment. This was despite the fact that the Montana man’s crimes against his daughter were only discovered when the mother of the child walked in on one of the sexual assaults.
Others familiar with Blake, including a social worker, said that the Montana man should be handed a lenient sentence because there was a low chance of him committing the same crime again. One person wrote that “he was a good father for 12 years,” while another wrote to the judge that the man was not a monster, but only someone who had committed a “mistake.”
The accused man’s attorney, Casey Moore, said that his client had already suffered for his crimes by losing his job and spending 17 days in prison.
“I’m not asking that he be given a slap on the wrist,” Moore said. “He did spend 17 days in jail, and he did lose his job.”
Man admits to raping 12-year-old daughter; gets 60 days in jailhttps://t.co/DSAHrbr4fJ
— WVNS 59News (@WVNS59News) October 14, 2016
Judge McKeon, while handing out the sentence, defended it by saying that it was “quite restrictive” for the Montana man as his name was already registered on the sex offender list. As part of the sentence, the man is now required to spend only 43 days in jail, having served 17 days already.
The decision has been widely panned on social media, with critics arguing that the judgment provides a stark example of how deeply white privilege and rape culture is embedded in the American criminal justice system.
The county attorney said he was shocked by the decision and refused to comment further on the case.
“I was shocked and disappointed, but I respect the judge’s decision,” he said.
Those outraged by the leniency of the decision have started an online petition to protest Blake’s sentencing, as well as to punish Judge McKeon for failing to “uphold the responsibility of ensuring justice as he is required to in his elected position.”
“He let an admitted child rapist, who was found guilty of incest after admitting to repeatedly raping his biological daughter walk out the door. This is a man who accepted a plea deal of 100 years in prison, yet instead the Judge decided to give him freedom. His reasoning was because he didn’t think it was right to remove this man from his other children and because he felt he deserved to have the chance to be rehabilitated in his own community.
“It is time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets.”
The ACTUAL mugshot of Brock Turner when he was arrested for rape in 2015. Before they cut his hair & suited him up. pic.twitter.com/H0pnSUJDZE
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 7, 2016
The Montana man’s rape case is strikingly similar in some aspects to Brock Allen Turner’s case, a white, young Stanford student who was sentenced to only six months with probation for raping a fellow student because the judge deemed that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him” and his future.
[Featured Image by Carlos Castilla/Shutterstock]