A wealthy heir from du Pont, Del., will serve no time in jail for raping his 3-year-old daughter because a Superior Court judge claimed in 2009 that he “will not fare well” in prison and should instead get probation and treatment, new court documents reveal.
Judge Jan Jurden’s 2009 sentencing for Robert H. Richards IV has resulted in new controversy. The judge reportedly said he considered the “unique circumstances” when settling on the man’s punishment for fourth-degree rape. The maximum penalty would have been 15 years in prison.
A lawsuit filed by Richards’ ex-wife accuses him of sexually abusing his infant son between 2005 and 2007, during the same time he was sexually abusing his daughter when she was only 3 years old. Police said they investigated allegations about sexual abuse of the boy but didn’t find enough evidence to charge him with additional crimes.
More from the report:
According to the arrest warrant filed by a New Castle County Police Detective JoAnna Burton in December 2007, the girl, then 5, told her grandmother, Donna Burg, that Richards sexually abused her.
Burg said the child reported that her father told her it was “our little secret” but said she didn’t want “my daddy touching me anymore.” The girl said her father molested her in the bedrooms of her mother and brother in the mansion at 10 Summit Lane near Winterthur Museum, the arrest warrant said.
Tracy Richards, who confronted her then-husband, told police he admitted abusing his daughter but said “it was an accident and he would never do it again,” the warrant said.
The judge’s “observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards was a rare and puzzling rationale, several criminal justice authorities in Delaware said,” The News Journal reports. “Some also said her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is a justification typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.”
Many prosecutors and attorneys reportedly consider Jurden a tough sentencing judge.
Others have speculated that the case might make outside observers wary about “how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system,” Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O’Neill told the publication.
Read the full report here.