**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.”
Almost every line in this story is horrifying….. https://t.co/0aND9hQXWi
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 3, 2019
My God… pic.twitter.com/Jq4Tctzt2U
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 3, 2019
16-yr-old boy rapes teen girl, records & shares video,& brags to ppl he “raped her”
Judge finds him innocent b/c “He comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school, he was doing extremely well & his scores were very high”????
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) July 3, 2019
He raped a 16-year-old girl, filmed it, sent the video to his friends and bragged about raping her. But he comes from a “good family” and has test scores that could get him into a “good college,” so let’s not make a big deal out of this.https://t.co/FPy5rnrOiq
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) July 3, 2019
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.
Good family values apparently they taught him rape is okay..
— Anywaywithcrookedpoliticians (@Anywaywithcroo1) July 3, 2019
‘Good family’ sounds a lot like a dog whistle for ‘white family’. :\
— Henry (@TheDragonPup) July 3, 2019
I didn’t read the story and I already know the kid is white. Very upsetting.
— scootch (@scootch) July 3, 2019
How proud his parents must be of their son… a shining example of trump immoral #new America
— Priscilla (@TruthandValues) July 3, 2019
I can’t tell you how I felt reading this. This person committed a criminal act. I don’t give a damn how rich he is or smart he is. He is a heinous creep and deserves appropriate punishment. And the judge should be disbarred.
— Bette K Stewart (@BetteKStewart1) July 3, 2019
Define “good family”? Almost Can read between the lines and see the words “white privilege” or “wealthy family”. Because right now I bet Eric Trump, Don Trump Jr snd Ivanka would be considered coming from a “good family”. Which clearly we all know that’s false.
— Zero Infinity (@m0bius8) July 3, 2019
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.
Let me guess…he is white privileged
— Make America Love Again (@tvdfan_andmore) July 3, 2019
Looks like another SCOTUS justice in training. Outrageous privilege is rotting our society to its core. Even a dinosaur like Troiano should know better. Fortunately it looks like Kavanaugh-grade white privilege isn’t coming to the rescue for “G.M.C.”
— Ron (@Ronnie_XXIII) July 3, 2019
It’s astounding given that it comes from someone in a position to render justice for crimes of rape & sexual assault. Victims don’t have a chance if their cases don’t fit into this judge’s “movie” idea of rape.
— Midwin Charles (@MidwinCharles) July 3, 2019
And when you look at the judges who are being appointed across the country in the past three years, this is not going to be uncommon. Someone needs to look closely at the judicial appointees of late.
— Andrew McCaskill (@DrewMcCaskill) July 3, 2019
— Think B4U Tweet (@IRaiseUFacts) July 3, 2019
I don’t care what kind of family you’re from—sexual assault is never acceptable. Stop making excuses for perpetrators and start standing up for those who’ve been violated.
Our kids don’t need to be coddled. They need to be taught not to rape. https://t.co/5JbfraBfOf
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) July 3, 2019
People pointed out this is why women and girls, like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, are reluctant to come forward immediately.
Gee I just don’t understand why women and girls don’t immediately report being raped, SUCH A MYSTERY https://t.co/SwSBudYzQN
— shauna (@goldengateblond) July 3, 2019
“What I find… is that survivors of sexual assault and rape don’t speak up. They fear … retaliation or recrimination,” says Cheryl Hunter, a rape survivor on news a judge was rebuked after saying a teen accused of rape deserves leniency because he “comes from a good family.” pic.twitter.com/Ta79r0VLDT
— CNN (@CNN) July 3, 2019
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.
The book The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-by-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault is available here.