Judge sentences man who raped sister to probation, citing ‘stigma’

Court, gavel. Credit: MGN

(CNN) A 20-year-old California man who pleaded guilty to raping his drugged younger sister was granted probation and is expected to serve just four months in jail, a sentence that the prosecutor says is worse than that given to Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.

The convicted man, of Crescent City, gave his 16-year-old sister high-potency marijuana “dabs” and repeatedly asked her to have sex, according to a criminal complaint. She said no several times until she became so “out of it” that she no longer recognized him as her brother, the complaint states.

CNN does not identify victims of rape, and given the victim’s relationship to the perpetrator, CNN is not identifying him. The man pleaded guilty to rape of a drugged person.

Prosecutors had asked for the defendant to receive six years in prison. A probation report said he “showed no real remorse and seemed smug” in his interview and recommended he not receive probation.

However, Judge William H. Follett said that the “stigma” of the conviction and sex offender registration were enough to deter him and others in the community, District Attorney Dale P. Trigg said.

Follett on May 17 sentenced the man to three years in prison, the lower term of sentencing options, and granted him probation, according to the Del Norte County district attorney’s office. The judge then sentenced him to 240 days in county jail at half time.

In all, that means the convicted man could serve a total of 120 days in jail, with no time in prison, Trigg said.

Brock Turner comparison

Trigg likened the light sentence to the case of Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman.

In that case, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, citing his young age and his lack of criminal record as reasons for the lenient sentence. Turner was released from jail after three months and registered as a sex offender for life.

Persky faced widespread criticism for the sentence, and more than 1.3 million people signed a Change.org petition calling for his removal from the bench. California legislators passed a bill mandating prison sentences for people who sexually assault unconscious or intoxicated victims.

In the Del Norte County case, the incident occurred prior to that law change, so it did not apply, according to Sandra Linderman, court executive officer for Del Norte Superior Court.

Judge Follett said that he felt the defendant was sorry and that rehabilitation was the key factor in his decision to grant probation, according to Trigg. The judge also noted that the victim took her own clothes off and was not unconscious, Trigg said.

“That to me is way out of line because you’re blaming the victim,” Trigg said.

In all, the district attorney said the case was even worse than Turner’s crime.

“In a lot of ways, this case is more egregious than Brock Turner. This defendant took advantage of a position of trust as this victim’s big brother,” Trigg said. “He knew she didn’t want to have sex with him. She told him that repeatedly. So he got her stoned on dabs he gave her until she didn’t even recognize him in order get what he wanted.”

Trigg added that he “could not disagree more” with the ruling.

“The message that this sends to our community is that sexual predators who get their juvenile siblings stoned enough can have sex with them without any meaningful consequence,” he said. “That is not the message I want to send to our community.”

Linderman said judicial ethics do not allow her or Follett to speak on the case.

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