A Kansas judge is receiving backlash for calling teenaged girls, aged 13 and 14, ‘aggressors’ in a child sex solicitation case.
Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens made the concerning remarks while sentencing 67-year-old Raymond Soden.
Soden was sentenced to just 5 years and 10 months in prison for soliciting sex with the minors over the internet. The sentence is eight years less than what Kansas sentencing guidelines call for, according to the Kansas City Star.
Before sentencing Soden, Judge Gibbens laid part of the blame on the teenage victims:
“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” Gibbens said before sentencing Soden. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.”
Raymond Soden admitted to knowing the 13-year-old girl was below the age of consent in his guilty plea to a felony charge of electronic solicitation.
Soden also has previous convictions on his record. One for battery and another for sexual battery.
Leavenworth prosecutors recommended a sentence of 13 years for Soden, but Judge Gibbens only sentenced him to 5 years and 10 months.
According to transcripts, Gibbens also had this to say when the 13-year-old victim in the case said that she felt “uncomfortable”:
“And so she’s uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off of, and was paid for?”
To which the prosecutor responded:
“Yes, judge. She was also a 13-year-old who under our laws can’t consent to anything,”
According to the Kansas City Star, the prosecutors are researching a possible appeal to get a longer sentence for the defendant.
Judge Gibbens has not been reached for comment as of yet.
Read part of Soden’s sentencing transcripts here.