Accused rapists should be held accountable, no room for leniency.

The National Organization for Women of New Jersey commends the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey for overturning the decisions of Judge James Troiano of Monmouth County, NJ, and Judge Marcia Silva of Middlesex County, NJ, both of whom refused to allow sixteen-year-old accused rapists to be tried as adults. In addition, NOW NJ calls for the removal of Judge Troiano and Judge Silva from the bench.

The actions of the accused rapist in the Monmouth case are egregious and well-documented. The prosecutor wrote that “filming a cell phone video while committing the assault was a deliberate act of debasement” and that the defendant’s behavior was “calculating and cruel.” Moreover, the young man is said to have shared the video with his friends with the comment “when your first time having sex is rape.”

Judge Troiano commented that the defendant deserved leniency since he was “from a good family” and had “terrific grades.” This is unacceptable. In saying that the victim and her family pressing charges would “destroy the boy’s life,” the judge showed little regard for the trauma that the victim will experience, arguably for the rest of her life. A similar sentiment was echoed by Judge Silva who argued for her decision saying that “beyond losing her virginity, the State did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental or emotional.” The victim was a twelve-year-old girl who undoubtedly will suffer from her rape for many decades.

Linda Weber, Legislative VP of NOW-NJ, said, “Sexual assault victims’ stories are often not believed and too frequently dismissed for lack of proof. In the Monmouth case, there is clear and convincing evidence and yet the judge wanted leniency for the young man. We have seen this message repeated in case after case. If a victim cannot get justice even when there is direct proof, fewer victims will come forward, perpetrators will go unpunished, and research suggests that they will rape again. This needs to stop now.”

The National Organization for Women feels strongly that sexual assault victims, primarily but not exclusively women and girls, deserve justice. It is they who are deserving of our empathy, not the perpetrators.

Download the press release here.