When it comes to hypocrisy, the criminal justice system always finds a way to top itself. Case in point, the Idaho judge who decided to enroll a teenager into a year-long therapeutic prison program after he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl.
ABC News reports Judge Randy Stoker sentenced Cody Duane Scott Herrera to five to 15 years in prison, but suspended it so the 19-year-old can take part in a one-year rider program. After he completes the program, he will be allowed probation and must not engage in sexual activity until he gets married. Part of his plea deal also allows the teen to bypass the sex offender registry.
Stoker explained he enacted the program after hearing that the teen had over 30 sexual partners. “If you’re ever on probation with this court, a condition of that will be you will not have sexual relations with anyone except who you’re married to if you’re married,” he told Herrera. “I have never seen that level of sexual activity by a 19-year-old,” Stoker said. During the trial, prosecutors pointed out Herrera’s lingering sexual intentions, which included fantasies about a 13-year-old girl and the admission of lewd footage of another underage girl on his phone. The victim’s mother also read an emotional statement that seemed to have little impact on Judge Stoker’s decision.
“It was his intent from the beginning to take what he wanted from my 14-year-old child — her virginity,” the victim’s mother said. “And he stayed around until he got it from her. Cody will never understand what he has done to our family. Cody robbed her of her innocence. He destroyed the child left in her. This can never be returned.”
Sexual assault cases have always resulted in short sentences, compared to drug possession cases. A study from The Washington State Institute for Public Policy reported sexual offenders with adult victims usually remain in prison for 60 months and 44 months for those who commit sex crimes against children. While the recidivism (repeated offense) is significantly lower than public belief (14 percent over a period averaging five to six years and 24 percent by 15 years), states continue to give sex offenders little to no jail time. The disparities have been argued over the years, but little has been done to truly give justice to the victims.
Legal experts believe the inclusion of what can be seen as a pinky promise in Herrera’s case is illegal or unenforceable. What are the steps that will ensure the teen won’t assault another minor (or adult?) How are they tracking his sexual activity? Judge Stoker didn’t elaborate on the specifics of the probation requirements, but it’s no surprise the criminal justice system isn’t for actual justice.