How Lighter Prison Sentences Lead to Victim Blaming

A court judge has been under fire recently, after deciding he won’t be trying a 16-year-old boy who sexually assaulted a girl at a pajama party. The victim, also 16, was “visibly intoxicated and therefore unable to consent to consensual sex.” 

The boy, set to stand trial as a juvenile, filmed the assault and then proceeded to send it to his friends stating, “When your first time having sex is rape.” However, Judge James Troiano felt that the boy should be tried as a juvenile as “he is from a good family” and “is destined for college.” He then went on to say that the boy’s actions weren’t those of a typical rape case since a weapon wasn’t brandished and there was only one perpetrator. 

Even with the evidence of the video sent to his friends, Troiano said that it was ‘stupid crap that teenagers sent to each other.’ The judge’s comments where heavily criticized by other law enforcers as well as the public. Appeals overturned his decisions last month, resulting in other cases he’s tried being reviewed under scrutiny. 

Some have said that instead of following laws of the state, Troiano made up his ‘own benched trial using personal opinion instead of written laws’. 

Unfortunately, Judge James Troiano isn’t the first to pass light sentences for horrendous crimes. In 2016, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Stanford University student Brock Turner to six months in jail after he sexually assaulted a girl during a party. Persky was quick to defend his decision as he stated ‘Brock is an athletic student; I don’t want to tarnish his bright future.’ What about the girl’s future?

She has to live with the memory of that night for the rest of her life, whilst he is able to walk without a look back. Nonetheless, there was no further justice as just three months into his sentence he was released. The only punishment was having his name added to the sex offenders registry. His family brandished it as ‘unfair as he struggles to go out in public.’ This is the exact notion that goes through the victim’s head. She is unable to step outside without feeling the eyes of the public. The justice system corrupted her faith and turned it against her by victim blaming. Her intoxication was more frowned upon than the trauma she went through was.

These two cases show just how little the law values victims. Instead, the law chooses to highlight the assault as a “mistake” since the offender had a decent upbringing. Rape is rape no matter the circumstances. Whether the victim was intoxicated or walking home late at night, it is never okay to assault someone. It is never okay for the justice system to use victims’ trauma to justify the assailant’s sentencing.

Mia Hill

Culture Writer

Mia is a 20-year-old student, currently studying Journalism and Creative Writing at Hertfordshire University. You will more than likely find Mia either with her head in a book or at Starbucks, indulging in a caramel latte. Her hobbies include short story writing and field hockey.

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