A man who paid a 13 and a 14-year-old for sex acts has been given a reduced sentence by a judge who claimed the children were “aggressors.”
County District Judge Michael Gibbens sparked outrage for his rationale in sentencing Raymond Soden to five years and 10 months in prison, seven years less than the Kansas minimum of 13 years, the Kansas Star reports.
“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, according to court transcripts seen by local media. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.”
Soden, who has previous convictions for sexual battery and battery, was charged with electronic solicitation for sending messages to the girls offering to pay for nude photographs and sex acts.
The girls were blamed for voluntarily going to the man’s house and accepting money from him for sexual acts.
“I think that a 13-year-old who offered what she offered for money is certainly an aggressor, particularly since she’s the one that had to travel to Mr Soden,” the judge said.
Soden’s lawyer Clinton Lee requested a lower sentence, claiming the recommended sentencing would be like a death sentence to the 67-year-old. He argued that the girls’ older sister had arranged for them to meet Soden. Soden knew the girls’ mother as she cleaned his house.
The judge considered Soden’s age, physical health and low intellect in his decision. He also said he was “pretty familiar” with the girls and believed it was possible they may have set him up to be robbed. He said that the fact that the girls didn’t appear in court led him to believe they weren’t as harmed as others in similar cases.
The judge also questioned the 13-year-old’s accounts that she felt “uncomfortable” by what took place in Soden’s home. “And so she’s uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off of, and was paid for?” he said.
The prosecutor responded by reminding the judge “She was also a 13-year-old who under our laws can’t consent to anything”.
Advocates for victims of sexual abuse believe this ruling is damaging to other victims, and prosecutors are considering an appeal.
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