Judge Is Nice to a Teen Accused of Rape Because He Came From a 'Good Family'

Image: Jim Cooke

File this one under “where have we seen this before:” a judge overseeing the case of a 16-year-old boy, accused of raping another teenager and circulating a video of the assault to his friends, decided to be very nice to the alleged rapist, because he came from a “good family” and was doing “extremely well” in school.”

According to court filings, both teens, named as G.M.C. and Mary in the documents, attended a basement party (it’s unclear when and where this occurred) where both consumed alcohol and appeared visibly drunk. During the alleged assault, the teenage boy “filmed himself penetrating Mary from behind on his cell phone, displaying her bare torso, and her head hanging down.” When some other partygoers checked up on Mary, she was “on the floor vomiting.” The next day, Mary told her mother “her fear that sexual things had happened at the party,” and that “she did not understand how she could have gotten bruise marks on her body or how her clothing had been torn.”

After the alleged assault, G.M.C. shared the video he took with his friends along with the text, “When your first time having sex was rape.”

After Mary’s family pressed charges, Monmouth County prosecutors in September 2017 petitioned the family court judge overseeing the case to try the 16-year-old as an adult due to the “sophisticated and predatory” nature of G.M.C.’s actions. Per the New York Times:

“At the time he led Mary into the basement gym, she was visibly intoxicated and unable to walk without stumbling,” the prosecutor wrote. “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 prosecutor wrote. “G.M.C.’s behavior was calculated and cruel.”

But Judge James Troiano refused that petition in July of last year, and in making the case for his decision, he used some all-too-familiar arguments, including that there was a distinction between “sexual assault and a rape,” and that a “traditional case of rape” was a stranger attacking someone at gunpoint. Troiano also questioned “whether or not this young lady was intoxicated to the point that she didn’t understand what was going on.”

Troiano also defended the teenager accused of rape based on the fact that he came from a “good family” and showed a lot of potential based on his academic scores. Per the Times:

He said the boy’s actions were not sophisticated or predatory, and dismissed G.M.C.’s text messages as “just a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends.”

“This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well,” the judge said. “His scores for college entry were very high.”

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“He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college,” Troiano reportedly said. According to the Times, Troiano also noted that prosecutors “should have explained to the girl and her family that pressing charges would destroy the boy’s life.”

Last month, an appeals court sharply criticized Troiano’s 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,” the appellate panel wrote.

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According to the Times, the appellate court’s decision means the case will now be moved from family court and G.M.C. will now be considered an adult. A grand jury will decide whether to indict him on sexual assault charges.

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Esther Wang

Senior staff writer, Jezebel