Who is Leo Weekes? Child rapist the latest revelation from Ketanji Jackson's files
Supreme Court nominee faces further challenges after Senate Judiciary Committee unveils another lax sentence for a sexual abuse perpetrator
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the US Supreme Court is looking extremely unlikely, as her verdicts for sex offenders continue to make headlines. President Joe Biden's nominee is finding it hard to defend herself from the GOP, who have accused her of being "weak" on sex offenders, with plenty of case files to back up their claims.
On March 24, the GOP questioned Jackson's three-month sentence for Wesley Hawkins, who was found guilty of trading child pornography. Then days later, case files revealed Jackson gave Lucas Cane the minimum of 60 months in prison for possession of 6,500 child pornography images, despite the prosecution's request for a longer sentence. The two cases are just the tip of the iceberg for the Republicans, who are staunchly opposed to Jackson's nomination.
On April 3, the GOP got more fodder in the form of Leo Weekes, another sex offender whose case Jackson presided over. The lack of consequences for Weekes is likely to have massive consequences for Jackson, whose nomination vote is scheduled for April 4, 2022. Bipartisan support seems unlikely, barring Susan Collins of Maine.
Who is Leo Weekes?
The latest individual to be drawn into the political storm of Jackson's confirmation is Weekes, a convicted child rapist. In 2010, Weekes was convicted of raping his 13-year-old niece in 2006. Initially, he was sentenced to 16 months in jail and four years of supervised probation and would have to register as a sex offender for a decade. However, Weekes did not register, and instead lied that he lived in Washington DC, when in fact he was living with his wife in Temple Hills, Maryland.
When the lie finally caught up with him, Weekes was brought before Jackson in February 2014, on the charge of failing to register as a sex offender. Prosecutors wanted a two-year sentence, arguing he lived "an adult life of dishonesty, of fraud and of failing to obey court orders." Court records show prosecutor Ari Redbord tell Jackson, "This is not a butt grab, a misdemeanor kind of case... This is an individual who, at trial, was convicted of essentially violently raping a 13-year-old child."
Shockingly, Jackson said there was "no evidence" Weekes was avoiding probation officers and said, "I do believe that criminal history is having a disproportionate impact on the sentence." She then sentenced Weekes to 12 months, with credit for time served. As a result, Weekes was released in July 2014. It wasn't the end of the story. Weekes was hauled before Jackson again in February 2017 for multiple probation violations.
During that hearing, the prosecutor referred to Jackson's earlier sentence for Weekes and said, "he failed at every turn to take advantage of that opportunity." Yet again, Jackon disagreed with the additional two-year sentence request and instead ordered Weekes to serve time partially overlapping with the time served for obstruction of justice and failing to register as a sex offender in another case.
Notably, had Weekes been sentenced for a longer duration in 2014, he would not have been able to sexually assault his sister-in-law, which he did in June 2015. Weekes did not face any charges in that case because his sister-in-law declined to cooperate with prosecutors. Like with the Lucas Cane case, the Weekes' case was not amongst the files the Senate Judiciary Committee received initially during her confirmation hearings. However, now that it has been seen by Senators, it's extremely likely to be another weapon in their arsenal against Jackson's confirmation.