A New Jersey family court judge is coming under fire for extending leniency to a 16-year-old alleged rapist who is accused of videotaping himself sexually assaulting an intoxicated girl at a basement party in 2017 before sharing the footage with friends along with the boast that his “first time having sex was rape.”
The case stems from a 2017 incident where the alleged attacker, identified in court documents as G.M.C., and the alleged victim, identified as “Mary”, were both intoxicated.
Judge James Troiano in New Jersey made the remarks while ruling that the boy, GMC, should not face trial as an adult for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl while recording the incident on his mobile phone.
Troiano said, “This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well, He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.”
Troiano, 69, also noted that the boy was an Eagle Scout.
Investigators said GMC sent a clip of the alleged rape to seven of his friends and later sent a text adding: “When your first time having sex is rape.”
The prosecutor argued G.M.C. had sex with Mary while she was “physically helpless and unable to provide consent,”, and that G.M.C.’s behavior was “calculated and cruel.” Yet Troiano suggested that, in his view, the alleged incident was a sexual assault rather than a rape and it did not involve two or more attackers or a weapon.
In denying the prosecutor’s request to move the case to adult court, Judge Troiano argued the incident wasn’t a “traditional case of rape.” He said G.M.C.’s text was just a 16-year-old kid saying “stupid crap” to his friends.
Now the judge has been sharply rebuked by an appeals court in a scathing 14-page ruling that warned the judge against showing bias towards privileged teenagers.
In doing so, the appeals court cleared the way for the case to be moved from family court to a grand jury, where the teenager, GMC, will be treated as an adult.
New Jersey law allows juveniles as young as 15 to be tried as adults when accused of serious crimes, and the grand jury will weigh whether to indict him on the sexual assault accusation.
After an intense public backlash, California voters recalled the judge.
Judge Troiano was scolded by the appellate court, according to the panel’s decision.
“That the juvenile came from a good family and had good test scores we assume would not condemn the juveniles who do not come from good families and do not have good test scores from withstanding waiver application,” the panel wrote in its decision.
A spokeswoman for the administrative office of the courts said the judges had no comment on the case. She said Mr. Troiano, a veteran judge who retired several years ago, was asked to occasionally fill vacancies on the bench.
Family court cases are typically closed to the public, but the judges’ comments surfaced in June when the appeals court decisions were made public, joining a series of contentious sexual assault cases that have ignited outrage over a legal system that advocates for victims say is warped by bias and privilege.