US & Canada

US judge says teenager rape defendant from 'good family' deserves leniency

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An appeals court has criticised a judge who ruled that a 16-year-old accused of rape should not be tried in an adult court as he was from a "good family" and attended an "excellent school".

The boy allegedly shared with friends a video of him raping the girl, along with the text: "When your first time having sex is rape."

The judge disputed whether the alleged attack was actually rape.

Prosecutors said the boy's alleged actions were "cruel" and "predatory".

They said the video showed the boy penetrating the girl, also 16, in a dark corner of a basement during an alcohol-fuelled party. She was "visibly intoxicated, physically helpless and unable to provide consent," the prosecution said.

The prosecutor said the defendant's "sophisticated and predatory" actions, including the attack and the sharing of the video that followed, warranted the case being escalated from family to adult court.

Judge James Troiano of Superior Court argued that the alleged attack did not constitute a "traditional case of rape", which he described as "generally two or more males involved, either at gunpoint or [with a] weapon, clearly manhandling a person into ... an area where ... there was nobody around, sometime in an abandoned house, sometimes in an abandoned shed, shack, and just simply taking advantage of the person as well as beating the person, threatening the person."

The judge also said the video that the boy is alleged to have sent to his peers was "just a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends". The defendant was "clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college", he added.

He said that prosecutors should have made it clear to the girl that pressing charges against the boy, who was an eagle scout with good grades, would destroy his life.

The appeals court has cleared the way for the case to go from family court to an adult court, where it will be tried by a grand jury. The court said the fact that the juvenile "came from a good family and had good test scores" should not impact whether the trial went to adult court.

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