There is plenty of room for improvement in how the American justice system deals with male offenders who come from privileged backgrounds. In 2016, Brock Turner, a convicted rapist, was given a lenient prison sentence of 6 months after he raped an intoxicated college student. That meager sentence was met with national outrage, but that high profile case apparently didn’t change the opinion of one judge.
Turner’s father claimed that his son’s life would be ruined by “20 minutes of action” fueled by alcohol. Now, less than three years since the Turner conviction, a similar case has reared its ugly head in New Jersey.
In 2017, a 16-year-old male who was only named as “C.M.T.” in court documents was in a New Jersey family courtroom after a 16-year-old girl claimed that he had raped her. It wasn’t hard to prove that an aggressive sexual assault took place as the teen boy had recorded the entire incident, which he subsequently sent around to his friend group.
The boy’s phone messages with his friends even proclaimed that he had committed rape. According to The New York Times, the teen boy sent his friends: “[w]hen your first time having sex was rape.”
Monmouth County prosecutors charged the teen boy with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, saying that he “engaged in vaginal intercourse” with the girl when she was “visibly intoxicated, physically helpless and unable to provide consent.”
The case sounded pretty open and shut, and prosecutors wanted to try the boy as an adult, which New Jersey law allows if the crimes are serious enough, BuzzFeed News reported.
Judge James Troiano, who presided over the case, saw things differently stating that the boy hadn’t committed “traditional rape,” claiming rape typically involved “two or more generally males involved, either at gunpoint or weapon, clearly manhandling a person.”
The prosecutor argued with the judge claiming the boy’s actions were “sophisticated and predatory.”
Before his ruling, Troiano admonished the prosecutors as he believed that they had not made the teen girl in the case aware that her claim would have a “devastating effect” on the defendant. He also claimed that the boy had done a lot of good in his life and “comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school,” CNN reported.
He then ruled that the teen boy could not be tried as an adult.
Thankfully, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court reversed Troiano’s decision on June 14th. Along with the reversed ruling, the courts argued Troiano “erred in denying the waiver motion because, in the process, he substituted his judgment for that of the prosecutor.”
“That the juvenile came from a good family and had good test scores we assume would not condemn the juveniles who do not come from good families and do not have good test scores from withstanding waiver applications,” the court wrote in a statement regarding the reversed ruling.
The boy will now be tried as an adult.