The perpetrator filmed the incident and shared the video with his friends. Despite this, the judge refuses to hold him accountable for his criminal actions.
In a shocking turn of events, New Jersey Judge James Troiano has suggested that a teenage boy accused of raping a girl and recording the assault in 2017 should be treated with leniency simply because he comes from a "good family," The Guardian reports. The judge also argued that such an encounter cannot amount to rape, casting doubt on the accuser's allegations. The 16-year-old victim Mary and her mother pursued criminal charges against the teenager, who has only been identified as "GMC," after learning that he had circulated the video amongst his group of friends. Thankfully, an appeals court intervened in the matter, demanding that the case be moved to a grand jury where the accused could be tried as an adult. Nonetheless, this case reveals the problematic biases that dictate our flawed justice system.
The judge claimed in his July 2018 ruling, "This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well. He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high." He also pointed out that the teenager was an Eagle Scout, which, of course, has no connection to the case in any manner. Additionally, Judge Troiano suggested that this was a case of sexual assault rather than rape because a “traditional case of rape” would typically involve more than one attacker using a weapon to take advantage of a victim in a remote location - a baseless and unfair definition of the term. Furthermore, he attempted to cast doubt upon the complainant, noting that she had "walked hand-in-hand" with her assaulter to the location where the rape took place. This is a classic example of victim-blaming that erases accountability on behalf of the perpetrator.
Needless to say, these statements were egregious claims made in an effort to protect a rapist, especially when keeping in mind the seriousness of the assault itself. According to a 14-page ruling from an appeals court, GMC filmed himself penetrating Mary from behind on his cell phone, displaying her bare torso, and her head hanging down. The video also displays Mary banging her head on the wall several times as GMC assaults her. In addition to this, the ruling notes that GMC had forwarded the clip to several of his friends with a follow-up text that read, "When your first time having sex was rape."
For these reasons and more, the appeals court asserted that Judge Troiano had surpassed his role as a protector of the law and hastily “decided the case for himself” instead of properly analyzing the case as well as the prosecutors' request to try GMC as an adult. In another biting passage, the appeals court made clear their hope that the law would apply fairly and equally to everyone, insisting that teenagers should not be forced to stand trial as adults merely because they “do not come from good families and do not have good test scores.” Mary's case is only one of many that have been appealed in order to isolate the judiciary's biases. There are, unfortunately, many Marys whose stories will not be told, who will have to accept a ruling that will not hold their perpetrators accountable. Hopefully, this case becomes an example for other protectors of the law who choose to protect criminals instead.