Kansas prosecutors are considering appealing a sex offender’s lenient sentencing by a judge who called the teenage victims “the aggressor.”
Raymond Soden, 67, was sentenced to less than six years in prison for electronic solicitation— eight years less than sentencing guidelines called for, reported the Kansas City Star. Prosecutors said he contacted a 13-year-old girl on social media, and offered money for nude photos of her and her friends, and for sex acts.
Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens said the two girls, aged 13 and 14, were partly to blame and downplayed the harm in Raymond Soden’s crimes, according to Law and Crime.
The judge said the girls went voluntarily to Soden’s home and accepted his money. He also dismissed the 13-year-old’s statement to investigators that she was uncomfortable about making physical contact.
“So she’s uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off, and was paid for?” Gibbens asked the prosecution, according to the transcript.
“I do find that the victims in this case were more an aggressor ... in the criminal conduct,” Gibbens said, the Star reported. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.”
He added: “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 wondered “what kind of trauma there really was to this victim under those peculiar circumstances.”
“These girls are minors, and are the victims, not the aggressors,” Michelle Herman, president child advocacy center Sunflower House, told the Star. “Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.”
The prosecutor challenged Gibbens’ comments in court, but the judge told him to take it up with an appellate court. Prosecutors said they are considering an appeal.
The judge declined to comment to the Star on his sentencing of Soden.