Du Pont heir Robert H. Richards IV admitted to raping his 3-year-old daughter and sexually assaulting his infant son. Despite his confession, the 47-year-old multimillionaire managed to avoid jail. Although he was initially charged with two counts of felony child rape, Richards was eventually offered a plea deal.
Per the deal, the Du Pont heir plead guilty to fourth-degree rape and Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden sentenced Richards to probation. Jurden said the defendant would "not fare well" in prison and she believes he is a good candidate for rehabilitation.
If convicted of the initial charges, Robert H. Richards IV would have faced a mandatory sentence of 20 years.
Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O'Neill is appalled with the judge's decision and reasoning:
"Prison is to punish, to segregate the offender from society, and the notion that prison serves people well hasn't proven to be true in most circumstances."O'Neill said the judge's decision raises important questions about "how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system."
As reported by Delaware Online, Richards' daughter reported the assault in 2007. At the age of five, the little girl told her grandmother that she did not "want [her] daddy touching [her] anymore." New Castle County Police Detective JoAnna Burton said Richard confessed to sexually assaulting his daughter and his infant son. However, he said "it was an accident and he would never do it again."
Although the Du Pont heir was charged with two counts of felony child rape, prosecutor Renee Hrivnak offered him a plea deal -- days before the trial was set to begin.
Fourth-degree rape can carry a sentence up to 15 years. However, Judge Jurden opted for a light sentence. Kendall Marlowe, with the National Association for Counsel for Children, disagrees with the judge's decision:
"Child protection laws are there to safeguard children, and adults who knowingly harm children should be punished... Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system's inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook."Although the criminal case was not publicized in 2008, Richards' former wife has now filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages. As reported by Detroit Free Press, Tracy Richards said her children have suffered "long-term injuries" due to the abuse.
In her lawsuit, Tracy said her former husband admitted penetrating their 3-year-old daughter and sexually assaulting their infant son. However, he "claimed that he was ill and that he needed medical treatment."
The lawsuit argues that the Du Pont heir avoided prison due to "his family's wealth and position in the community." Robert H. Richards IV has not responded to the allegations.
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