One wouldn’t think that kids the age of 13 and 14 could be considered “aggressors” in a situation involving a sexual encounter with a 67-year-old. But according to a Kansas county judge, they can, and were, in the case of Raymond Soden, who was convicted of soliciting sexual acts over Facebook from two girls, aged 13 and 14. Arguing that the children were “aggressors,” Judge Michael Gibbens reduced Soden’s sentence from the 13 years requested by the prosecution to just five years and 10 months, the Kansas City Star reports.
To bolster his argument that the girls were partly to blame, Gibbens pointed out that the girls went to Soden’s house voluntarily and took money for sexual favors, and that they didn’t show up for the sentencing.
“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct. They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell,” Gibbens said.
The judge claims he also took other factors into consideration, including Soden’s age, low intellectual functioning, and poor physical health. He didn’t say whether he took into consideration Soden’s past offenses, one for battery and one for sexual battery.
The younger girl reportedly gave a statement to authorities saying that she felt “uncomfortable” about an incident of physical contact. Judge Gibbens asked the prosecutor, Deputy County Attorney Joan Lowdon, “And so she’s uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off of, and was paid for?”
“Yes, judge. She was also a 13-year-old who under our laws can’t consent to anything,” Lowdon answered.
The judge went on to question whether or not the girls were even affected, telling Lowdon, “I wonder what kind of trauma there really was to this victim under those peculiar circumstances.”
Michelle Herman, president and CEO of Sunflower House, a child advocacy center based in Shawnee, told the Star, “These girls are minors, and are the victims, not the aggressors. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the girls did or didn’t do, he is still the adult and nobody deserves to be taken advantage of sexually.”
Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson told the Star that a possible appeal is being researched by prosecutors.
h/t: The Kansas City Star