Kansas Judge Calls Teen Girls ‘Aggressors’ in Sex Abuse Case

Raymond Soden was recently convicted of soliciting two minors for sex. The 67-year-old Leavenworth, Kansas, man pleaded guilty, admitting he was fully aware that he had offered to purchase naked photographs from 13- and 14-year-old girls, as well as to pay them to perform sex acts.

Given Soden’s criminal history, which included convictions for battery and sexual battery, prosecutors asked for a minimum sentence of 13 years of prison — in line with Kansas sentencing guidelines. Instead, District Judge Michael Gibbens sentenced Soden to five years and 10 months in prison — but why?

“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” Judge Gibbens remarked during sentencing, referring to the two girls solicited by Soden. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell,” claimed Gibbens.

Referring to an occasion when one of the minors had had “uncomfortable” physical contact with Soden, Judge Gibbens questioned this characterization:

And so she’s uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off of, and was paid for. I wonder what kind of trauma there really was to a victim under those particularly circumstances.

Soden’s attorney argued that giving him 13 years in jail would amount to a death sentence, a factor Judge Gibbens says he considered in his sentencing decision.

Per Kansas law, such a severe departure from state sentencing guidelines requires a demonstration of “substantial and compelling reasons.” Did Gibbens achieve this? Prosecutors are doubtful, and they’re currently exploring the possibility of asking for a sentencing appeal.

The survivors involved were both under 16 — the age of consent in Kansas — and, as such, they were incapable of legally consenting to sex with an adult. An individual of that age lacks the emotional and developmental maturity to make these types of decisions.

Age aside, this sentence demonstrates an all too pervasive tendency to blame the victims of sexual violence – both in the court of public opinion and in actual courts.

Perhaps the most publicized example was the extraordinary sentence given to Cyntoia Brown. Brown was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 for killing a man in self-defense after he bought her for sex and threatened her life. Though she spent the next 15 years behind bars, last month Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam finally granted Brown clemency. She’s set to be released in August.

Judge Gibben’s decision to hand out a short sentence for Soden is also strikingly similar to the case of Brock Turner. The Stanford athlete was given just six months of jail time after sexually assaulting a woman in 2015, with the judge justifying the light sentence because he did not feel it necessary to unduly punish the privileged young man.

How just is a criminal justice system populated by judges who seem more worried about perpetrators of sexual violence than their victims? Is it truly any wonder why many survivors decline to come forth about their abuse for years — if ever?

Take Action!

Last year Judge Aaron Persky was recalled after his atrocious handling of the Brock Turner sentencing, thanks to a successful voter initiative. But, as this case out of Levenworth, Kansas, shows us, Perksy isn’t the only judge failing in his duty to uphold the law in such instances.

It’s time for District Judge Michael Gibbens to face similar consequences. Add your name to this Care2 petition and join other concerned Care2 members in calling for the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications to examine Gibbens and remove him from the courtroom immediately!

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here are some guidelines to help you get started and soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.

 

Photo Credit: Keila Trejo/iadMedia via Flickr

62 comments

Ingrid A
Past Member 1 months ago

Thank you for posting

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Leo C
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Helen C
Helen C2 months ago

tyfs

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Shirley S
Shirley S2 months ago

Why were the girls eager to earn money in such a horrible fashion ?

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Roberta G. - Here's a link to a thread where you and this "person" interaçted.

https://www.care2.com/causes/ice-wont-deport-nazi-war-criminal-just-200000-other-people.html

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Roberta G. - You'll find his coments in the thread for which I'm providing a link. Because he left - or was tossed out - his name appears as "past member," but you'll recognize the avatar. And he's always from California. Could be a "she," but more likely a "he."

https://www.care2.com/causes/senate-confirms-coal-lobbyist-as-the-epas-new-2.html

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Roberta G. - Luna and Debi come to mind. Do those names ring any bells? Although many of the comments he addressed to me were vulgar and completely inappropriate, I never reported him. I thought Care2 would because other members might have found them offensive, too. I think Rhoberta E. and Karen S. are much more familiar with this person. They didn't take any of his B.S.

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Roberta G
Roberta G2 months ago

Suzanne - thought the bad grammar and lousy sentence construction looked familiar! Does anyone remember any of "Jacey's" previous aliases?

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Roberta G. - Please note that I was referring to my first comment, not the one that appears below.

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Susanne R
Susanne R2 months ago

Roberta G. - When I said "he's baaack," I was referring to the comment that appeared below mine. Check the lack of capitalization, lack of punctuation, the run-on sentences, and the overall support of men who abuse females. He's improved a bit, but not enough to hide his identity. If you have any doubts, check out his new profile.

Great comment!

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