Montana Judge John McKeon has come under fire in the last week for the way he handled a heartbreaking case of child sexual assault. The case itself was particularly troubling, even for a child sex crime. The defendant, who isn’t named in this article to protect the identity of his victim, reportedly admitted to repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter. Ultimately, the man pleaded guilty to one count of incest rape of a child as part of a plea agreement.
Before Montana Judge John McKeon had the responsibility of sentencing the admitted child rapist, he and his legal team had agreed to a sentence with the case’s prosecutor, Valley County District Attorney Dylan Jensen. The agreed upon sentence? A fitting 100-year prison term. The concession of the District Attorney? That the state would suspend 75 of those years, leaving the defendant with 25 years to serve in prison for the crime of raping his own 12-year-old daughter.
When the defendant was brought before Montana Judge John McKeon for his sentencing hearing last Friday, Judge McKeon shocked and stunned the local community by imposing a sentence of his own choosing in the case. As CNN reports, Montana Judge John McKeon opted for a sentence that would spare the admitted incestuous child rapist from spending a single night in prison. Instead of adhering to the prosecutor’s reasonable sentence for an admitted child sex offender, a child sex offender that had confessed to raping his own 12-year-old daughter, the judge in the case sentenced the defendant to 60 short days in the county jail, with credit for the 17 days that he’d already served.
In addition, the convicted sex offender will face a 30 year suspended prison sentence, meaning that if he violates the terms of his probation, he could conceivably find himself incarcerated for decades. He is also required to complete a sex-offender treatment program and is not allowed to be unsupervised with anyone under the age of 18.
The public’s reaction to the sentence handed down by Montana Judge John McKeon was immediate and vengeful. Within hours of the news that the admitted child rapist would be spared prison time, a petition to impeach District Judge John McKeon was created on Change.org. As of today, the petition has gathered nearly 60,000 signatures from people who believe that John McKeon should be punished for allowing a convicted and admitted child sex offender back onto the Montana streets in mere weeks.
According to the online call to impeach Judge McKeon, nobody at the sentencing hearing took the needs of the 12-year-old girl into consideration. While the defendant had multiple people speaking out on his behalf and begging for leniency, there was no advocate for the victim in sight.
“No one spoke on behalf of the 12-year-old child at trial.”
The Change.org petition further advocated for the victim in the case and blasted Montana Judge John McKeon and the defendant in the disturbing case of incestuous child rape.
“A father raped his daughter multiple times and will only serve 60 days of jail time. Judge John C. McKeon sentenced 40 year-old Martin Blake to only 60 days of incarceration and probation for the admitted, multiple rapes of his 12 year-old. Judge McKeon even gave Blake credit for the 17 days served while awaiting trial,meaning he will only serve 43 days for the brutal sexual assault.
“60 days in prison with a suspended 30 year sentence does not match the crime and fails to acknowledge the horrors the victim had to endure. Judge McKeon did not uphold the responsibility of ensuring justice as he is required to in his elected position. The judge provided a number of reasons for his horrible decision. None of them justify the sentence that was handed down.”
Despite the public outcry, Montana Judge John McKeon is defending his decision to hand down a shockingly light sentence to an admitted child sex offender, even though that sentence was utterly contrary to the sentence agreed upon between the defendant and prosecutor in the case at the time that a plea agreement was reached. While refusing to speak to the media directly and/or answer questions about his decision to let an admitted incestuous child rapist off with no prison time, Montana Judge John McKeon has issued a statement regarding his decision.
In his statement, the judge cites the fact that nobody spoke out in defense of the 12-year-old victim in the case, adding that the victim’s own mother had the following to say.
“I do not feel 25 years in prison is necessarily the best way for the defendant to pay for what he has done. The defendant made a horrible choice. He needs help – not to spend 25 years locked up. He is not a monster, just a man that really screwed up and has been paying in many ways since and will continue to have to pay through this justice system and with the loss of family and friends and his own conscience.”
While the victim’s grandmother, rather than speaking out on behalf of her repeatedly victimized 12-year-old granddaughter, also spoke out in defense of the defendant sentenced in Judge John McKeon’s courtroom.
“What he (the defendant) did to my granddaughter was horrible, and he should face consequences. And I certainly never want it to happen again to anyone. But his children, especially his sons, will be devastated if their Dad is no longer part of their lives.”
Montana Judge John McKeon added that he followed the recommendations of “respected” member of the Montana Sex Offender Treatment Program, Michael D. Sullivan, who believed that the defendant would benefit from community-based sex offender treatment.
Despite the judge’s assurances, members of his local community and people from around the nation are refusing to back down on their calls for him to be impeached over the sentence he handed out. Despite the fact that the Montana judge was scheduled to retire in the very immediate future, protesters don’t think that simply having him off the bench is an appropriate “punishment” for a judge who sentenced an admitted incestuous child rapist to no prison time.
“The Judicial Standards Commission must review this case to right this wrong, but in the meantime, we can ensure Judge McKeon doesn’t get to retire and collect a paycheck from taxpayers after failing to fulfill his duty as a judge.”
According to those behind the petition to impeach Montana Judge John McKeon, they don’t want him collecting a pension after retirement after “what he’s done” to deny a 12-year-old victim justice.
[Featured Image by Michal Kalasek/Shutterstock]