US: Judge rules underage girls were ‘aggressors’ in abuse case involving 67-year-old man
A judge in the US state of Kansas has reduced the sentence of a 67-year-old man convicted of soliciting a 13-year-old girl on Facebook by eight years after determining the teen and her friend to have been “aggressors” in the case.
Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens made the assessment when pronouncing Raymond Soden’s sentence, according to The Kansas City Star newspaper.
The five-year and 10-month prison sentence was dramatically less than the nearly 16-year sentence advised by the state’s sentencing guidelines for such crimes. Kansas law requires significant reasons for a judge to depart from the state’s guidelines.
“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” said Gibbens.
The 13-year-old girl allegedly offered nude photos of herself and her friends to the man, voluntarily traveling to the man’s house along with another teen girl.
“They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell,” added Gibbens, questioning “what kind of trauma” they suffered from the incident and suggesting the girls were partly responsible for the crime.
The sentence has disturbed child victim advocates and prosecutors. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said prosecutors are seeking to appeal Soden’s prison sentence in favor of the teens.
“We have looked into filing an appeal, but we have not made a decision,” said Thompson. “We always try to zealously advocate for the victims and community safety in every case we pursue.”
The minimum age for sexual consent in the US state of Kansas is above 16 years, being the minimum age permitted for sexual activity among US states.
Prostitution is also illegal in the vast majority of the United States as a result of state laws, including that of Kansas.