Judge slammed for arguing that rape-accused teen deserved leniency because he 'comes from a good family'
Superior Court Judge James Troiano saw his decision to deny the prosecution's waiver to try the defendant as an adult reversed by appellate court judges
A family court judge in New Jersey has been chastised by the state appeals court after he denied the prosecutor's bid to try a 16-year-old who has been accused of rape as an adult.
Appellate court judges reversed Superior Court Judge James Troiano's decision to reject a Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office bid to waive a 16-year-old, identified as GMC, to an adult court for an alleged sexual assault at a party in 2017, according to NJ.com.
Court documents state that the alleged assault took place at a pajama-themed party that GMC had been attending with the victim, also 16, identified as Mary, and 30 other adolescents.
At some point in the party, GMC, who was drunk, and Mary, who was also "visibly drunk" and displayed a slurred speech and stumbled as she walked, had intercourse in the darkened basement.
GMC filmed himself "penetrating" Mary from behind on his cell phone, "displaying her bare torso, and her head hanging down" and then forwarded the clip to several friends. The next day, he reportedly sent a text that read, "[w]hen your first time having sex was rape."
Another text read, "Boy, if I had a knife on me -- on me when I -- when I f***** her, I'd be the epitome of this show."
The next morning, Mary did not remember any of the events that transpired at the party and did not understand how she had bruises on her body or how her clothing had torn.
Over the course of several months, she learned that GMC had filmed himself having sex with her and circulated the video among his friends. When her requests to have the video deleted were ignored, her mother contacted authorities.
The assistant prosecutor at the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office recommended that the case be submitted for consideration for an involuntary waiver to the Law Division, noting that GMC "engaged in vaginal intercourse with [Mary] while she was visibly intoxicated, physically helpless and unable to provide consent."
The prosecutor said she found that the "offenses involved a sexual assault against [Mary's] person and a gross violation of her privacy" and concluded that GMC's actions were "sophisticated and predatory".
But Judge Troiano denied the motion and questioned the prosecution's description of GMC's actions as "sophisticated and predatory," writing, "I think it's an issue here, whether or not this young lady was intoxicated to the point that she didn't understand what was going on."
He also said that the defendant "comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well" and noted that GMC was an Eagle Scout. Troiano also expressed his concern over the "devastating effect a waiver would have on GMC's life" and "he is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high."
The prosecution challenged his decision to deny the waiver, arguing that he "substituted his judgment for that of the prosecutor."
Judges at the appellate court agreed, writing, "In denying the waiver, the trial court minutely considered the circumstances of the offense, made an independent assessment of the juvenile's culpability, and considered GMC's prior good character… His consideration of these elements, however, sounded as if he had conducted a bench trial on the charges rather than neutrally reviewed the state's application."