As judges around the United States are starting to learn, the world is watching them. It only takes moments for fury to erupt and an angry crowd to form when a judge gives someone who commits a heinous crime a lenient sentence. According to The Washington Post, a petition on Change.org has called for Judge John McKeon to be impeached after he gave a father from Montana who pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter a sentence of 60 days.
“It’s time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets,” were the words on the petition that more than 30,000 people have signed.
The prosecutors in the case of the Montana father who got 60 days for repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter had recommended a mandatory sentence of 25-years, 100 years with 75 suspended. This is what the state law in the state of Montana calls for. Instead of listening to the recommendation of the prosecutor in the Montana father’s case, Judge McKeon gave the father a much lighter punishment of a 30-year suspended prison sentence. Basically, this means the guilty man would only have to do jail time if he does not meet the conditions of his probation.
Among the probation conditions Judge McKeon referred to as “quite rigorous” includes requiring the Montana father to register as a sex offender, not accessing pornography, and having limited Internet access. The man was also required to serve 60 days in jail. Judge McKeon, however, did credit the Montana father who plead guilty to repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter for the 17 days he already spent in jail. This meant he only had to spend another 43 days in jail to meet the terms of his probation.
In the past, these controversial cases resulted in the judge remaining silent until things die down. The Washington Post points out that this case is particularly unusual because Judge McKeon has made the decision to publicly defend the punishment he gave to the rapist.
In an email, Judge McKeon claims there were several reasons why he handed down such a light sentence.
According to Judge McKeon, the media coverage has obscured the state law and failed to mention an exception to the mandatory 25-year prison sentence. The judge goes on to reveal that the law allows those who have been arrested for incest involving someone under the age of 12 to avoid going to jail if it is determined through a psycho-sexual evaluation that psychiatric treatment is the better option. The judge believes this is the best way for the state of Montana to “to encourage and provide opportunities for an offender’s self-improvement, rehabilitation and reintegration back into a community.”
The judge also goes on to reveal he received letters from the victim’s mother and grandmother asking the convicted man not to be sent to prison. Although the victim’s mother walked in on the father abusing her daughter, she still said the man’s two sons loved him. She claims she wanted “his children to have an opportunity to heal the relationship with their father,” and the children would not get a chance to do this if he was behind bars.
The grandmother of the victim more or less echoed what the wife had said by calling the act “horrible,” but she claimed the children loved him and would be devastated without him in their lives anymore.
The Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen points out that while there were all of these letters defending the convicted man, there was no one that spoke on behalf of the 12-year-old victim during the sentencing hearing. What about her? Where was her support?
The petition to have the judge impeached for his light sentence does highlight the fact that everyone in the family appears to be defending the father, but no one is defending the 12-year-old girl.
“No one spoke on behalf of the 12 year old child at trial. No one. The victim was not given justice, but instead will have to live with the fear that she still has to face her rapist in their community. “
Judge McKeon’s attempt to defend his decision hasn’t stopped the petition from continuing to gain signatures as the judge is set to retire next month, and many people do not think the state of Montana should have to pay for his retirement after what has happened.
Do you think this father from Montana got off too easy for repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter? Do you think the judge should be impeached for giving such a light sentence? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Montana Valley County Police Department]