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New Jersey Judge Sparks Backlash After Giving Teen Rapist A Break For The Most Infuriating Reason

seksan Mongkhonkhamsao/Getty Images; @JoyAnnReid/Twitter

**Content Warning: the following contains discussion of rape and sexual assault

Most of us have heard the saying “justice is blind” and seen the depictions of Lady Justice wearing a blindfold. The expression speaks to the ideal that justice is impartial and objective. Justice’s blindfold alludes to treating friends, strangers, the rich and the poor the same.

Apparently New Jersey Superior Court Judge James Troiano missed that part in law school. While presiding in Monmouth County, he denied prosecutors’ motion to try a 16-year-old as an adult.

An act of mercy?

More like a recognition of privilege. The 16 year-old male filmed himself raping a clearly intoxicated girl then sent the video to friends with the caption:

“When your first time having sex was rape.”

But although the boy knew he had committed rape, Judge Troiano said last year that it was not rape since the girl was not forced at gunpoint. Plus the rapist “came from a good family, attended an excellent school, had terrific grades and was an Eagle scout.”

The judge then chastised prosecutors for not explaining to the victim how charging her alleged rapist with rape would “destroy his life.”

Judge Troiano added:

“He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college.”

Now, an appeals court has issued a 14 page rebuke of the judge, clearing the way for the young man to face criminal charges and moving the case from family court to a grand jury where prosecutors wanted the case to go last year before being blocked by Judge Troiano.

The appellate court wrote in their decision:

“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 application.”

When prosecutors brought the case before Judge Troiano, they stated:

“At the time he led Mary (an alias to protect the victim’s identity) into the basement gym, she was visibly intoxicated and unable to walk without stumbling. For the duration of the assault, the lights in the gym remained off and the door was barred by a foosball table.”

“Filming a cellphone video while committing the assault was a deliberate act of debasement.”

The prosecutor said that the boy lied to Mary in the following months, while simultaneously sharing the video.

“This was neither a childish misinterpretation of the situation, nor was it a misunderstanding. [The young man’s] behavior was calculated and cruel.”

People could not help but draw parallels to the case of Stanford rapist Brock Turner who received a light sentence because he was a good swimmer from a good family.

People questioned how good of a family this latest young man could have come from.

They also questioned why Judge Troiano felt the young man who chose to assault a girl and call it rape needed protection more than the girl he assaulted.

People pointed out this is why women and girls, like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, are reluctant to come forward immediately.

Judge Troiano, who officially retired several years ago, serves only as a fill in judge when he is needed. Hopefully for the sake of equal justice, his services will no longer be needed in the future.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available.

Call the National Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or chat online at

The book I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape is available here.

The book The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-by-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault is available here.

Amelia Mavis Christnot

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka and Metis Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. She considers herself another proud Maineiac. Her picture is from 1984 for purely Orwellian reasons.