A 40-year-old Montana man had sex with his 12-year-old daughter in 2015. That’s a fact. He pleaded guilty to felony incest in front of a Valley County judge. And with the prosecutor recommending a 100-year prison sentence (75 which of which would be suspended), it seemed like he’d only get out when he was old and grey.
Except no, that won’t be the case. On October 4, Judge John McKeon decided that he would ignore the minimum of 25 years that was part of the plea agreement and instead sentence him to a 30-year suspended sentence. What that means is the man will only spend a total of 60 days in jail, and 17 of those days were already registered as time-served.
We are not naming the man because this might unintentionally invade the privacy of the girl. After all, she’s a minor and the victim of a sexual assault.
McKeon’s reasoning for the sentence is that the man had a lot of support from the community, including family (the girl’s mother and grandmother), friends, church, and current employer. And a social worker had testified that the man was at a low-risk of re-offending.
“I’m not asking that he be given a slap on the wrist,” his attorney Casey Moore said. “He did spend 17 days in jail and he did lose his job,” adding that the man will undergo life-time supervision as a sex-offender. But, of course, it’s tough to characterize an additional 43 days as anything but a tiny, tender slap.
As part of the plea agreement, the man only admitted to one instance of felony incest. However, at least one other was mentioned in testimony and in a risk-assessment by a social worker, so Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen had, understandably, pushed for a far more serious sentence.
“I was shocked and disappointed, but I respect the judge’s decision,” he told The Glasgow Courier.
Judge McKeon, while handing out the sentence, defended it by saying that it was “quite restrictive” for the Montana man as his name was already registered on the sex offender list. As part of the sentence, the man is now required to spend only 43 days in jail, having served 17 days already.
The decision has been widely panned on social media, with critics arguing that the judgment provides a stark example of how deeply white privilege and rape culture is embedded in the American criminal justice system.
The county attorney said he was shocked by the decision and refused to comment further on the case.
“I was shocked and disappointed, but I respect the judge’s decision,” he said.
Those outraged by the leniency of the decision have started an online petition to protest Blake’s sentencing, as well as to punish Judge McKeon for failing to “uphold the responsibility of ensuring justice as he is required to in his elected position.”
“He let an admitted child rapist, who was found guilty of incest after admitting to repeatedly raping his biological daughter walk out the door. This is a man who accepted a plea deal of 100 years in prison, yet instead the Judge decided to give him freedom. His reasoning was because he didn’t think it was right to remove this man from his other children and because he felt he deserved to have the chance to be rehabilitated in his own community.
“It is time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets.”
The Montana man’s rape case is strikingly similar in some aspects to Brock Allen Turner’s case, a white, young Stanford student who was sentenced to only six months with probation for raping a fellow student because the judge deemed that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him” and his future.
[h/t The Glasgow Courier]