A Kansas judge gave a 67-year-old man convicted of sexually abusing two minors a reduced sentence last week, claiming the teenage girls he abused were the “aggressor” in the case.
Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens sentenced Raymond Soden, 67, to five years and ten months in prison, eight years less than the standard sentencing guidelines under Kansas law because of factors ranging from advanced age to poor health.
But Gibbens, while sentencing Soden for luring his 13 and 14-year-old victims to his house using Facebook and money to obtain sexual favors, said Soden’s victims were partly to blame for his criminal actions because they chose to go to his house.
The judge also said the teen girls did not show up in court to give impact statements.
“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” Gibbens said, according to the Kansas City Star. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.”
Several sexual abuse advocacy groups blasted Gibbens’ ruling, saying the girls should not legally be at fault for being victims of an adult’s crime.
“Children are NEVER at fault for abuse and CANNOT consent (developmentally or legally) with an adult,” the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sex Assault said in a statement.
“These girls are minors, and are the victims, not the aggressors,” said Michelle Herman, president and CEO of Sunflower House, a child sexual assault advocacy group.
“Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the girls did or didn’t do, he is still the adult and nobody deserves to be taken advantage of sexually,” Herman added.
Prosecutors say they are looking into appealing the judge’s ruling, arguing that Soden should serve a minimum of 13 years behind bars.