Santa Ana, California – Judge M. Marc Kelly sentenced a convicted child rapist earlier this week. The sentence he gave the offender was 10 years, while the mandatory minimum sentence for child rape is 25 years.
In his opinion, Judge Kelly wrote, “There was no violence or callous disregard for (the victim’s) well-being.”
The opinion and lenient sentence has caused outrage amongst groups and people of all political leanings, and has even led to a petition on Change.org calling for Judge Kelly’s resignation.
Judge Kelly also wrote, “Although serious and despicable, this does not compare to a situation where a pedophilic child predator preys on an innocent child.” This begs the question, “What is it then?”
The facts of the case hold that the child, age 3, wandered into the garage where the rapist, Kevin Jonas Rojano, was playing a video game. Rojano proceeded to sodomize the child, holding his hands over the child’s mouth to keep her quiet. The child’s injuries were discovered by her mother when the child complained of pain.
Besides the issues with Judge Kelly refusing to acknowledge that the rape itself, by definition, was violent, his sympathetic attitude toward the defendant shows a serious misunderstanding of what happened to this poor little girl. Furthermore, it shows a profound misunderstanding of what violence is.
The word “assault” (in this case, sexual assault) is inherently violent. Without violence, there is no assault. That Judge Kelly found there was no violence or callous disregard for the child’s well-being is, frankly, disturbing and should draw into question Judge Kelly’s ability to determine which cases he hears, or has heard in the past, involving violent acts.
Similarly, one might ponder what type of person makes a distinction, and a subsequent legal decision based on the distinction, between a case of child rape and long-term sexual abuse. Or, maybe a more poignant question: should there be?
The fact that this was not an ongoing predatory act should not be a credit toward the rapist. This is, in the truest sense, a distinction without a difference. Whether a one-time occurrence, or years of mental and sexual abuse, this child must suffer with the fact that she was sexually violated by an adult male near the beginning of her life, for the rest of her life.
This is another speed bump for the Orange County bench. Over the last few years, a number of judges have been disciplined for issues related to sexual matters, including participating in sex acts in chambers with subordinates. Elected judges are very rarely removed from the bench; it has only happened once, and that judge was convicted of possession of child porn. Generally, outside candidates will challenge judges in election faced with such controversy. One way or another, perhaps this case will lead to a second ousting.