Skip navigation

Tag Archives: sexual abuse


When this story made headlines just a few days ago, there were almost immediately several petitions which popped up, calling for the removal of Judge Jan Jurden for being too lenient.

While I still think she should step down, the more I look at her career and the responses of others in Delaware’s legal system, the more I wonder if she was somehow pressured or coerced into making this decision.

Someone mentioned in an online forum that it seemed strange to have a female judge pass down this light sentence, which was set up by a female prosecutor, and wondered if that was arranged in order to soften the appearance of a backroom deal that was made long before Jurden even saw the case.  This seems more and more plausible, as others in Delaware’s legal system weigh in to defend her decision.

According to an article written by Richard D. Kirk, Chair of Delaware’s State Bar, the plea agreement was made by the prosecutors, and although she could have gone against the recommendation and given a heavier sentence, it would have been unusual.

But does it mean there is some grand conspiracy to protect someone wealthy?

I would like to think it would be even more unusual that someone who violated a small child would not serve time in prison.  But, it is not as uncommon as I would like to believe.  The person who abused me as a child never served time in prison for it either, and he’s not even wealthy.  And, how many other times have we heard of sex offenders getting away with it?  Let’s face it.  Our system is utterly and undeniably broken, especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us.  For the crime of fourth-degree rape, the crime of which Richards was convicted, the recommended sentence in Delaware is just zero to 30 months in prison.

I understand the outrage so many people are feeling over this case.  I am outraged with you, and for you.  There are so many of us for whom this hits painfully close to home.

However, I think it is a mistake to solely put the blame of this case on Jurden.  The individuals who constructed this deal also share the blame.  And, let’s not forget the animal who started all this, Robert H. Richards IV, who perhaps deserves the larger share of our outrage.  Hopefully, his ex-wife will get every cent he has in the civil suit she recently filed.  I would be willing to bet that he fears being penniless and unemployable even more than he fears prison or death– especially now that his face is plastered all over the world.

But let’s also not forget, we must not become the monsters we are fighting.   Sure, my initial gut reaction was hostile.  I still have a hard time keeping my cool about some subjects, and this happens to be one of them.  But, the recent threats some have made against Jurden, the expressions of violence against her and Richards, the angry profanity-filled rants.. none of these will help our cause, even though the feelings might be justifiable.

None of us is served by creating more pain in this world, no matter how deserving of it we might feel someone is.

To fix our system, we must do it the same way it was broken– systematically, methodically, thoughtfully.


Though the original case was heard back in 2009, it is now in the headlines because of a civil suit filed by the victims’ mother, and the details have a lot of people understandably and rightfully outraged.

Robert H. Richards IV, a DuPont heir, was convicted in a plea agreement for the rape of his 3-year-old daughter, and he received only probation with a suspended prison term.  No jail time unless he violates his probation.

The sentence was given by Judge Jan Jurden, and was recently said to be based on recommendations by the prosecuting attorney.  In a recent article, Richard D. Kirk, the Chair of the Delaware State Bar said, “Looking at this matter solely from the 2009 perspective, before the private damages lawsuit was filed, virtually everyone would have considered this an appropriate sentence. It was not an unusual sentence under the circumstances presented and would have been available to comparably situated defendants sentenced by this judge and other judges of the Superior Court. Mischaracterizing the 2009 court record as the article did to portray the sentence as somehow inappropriate was unfair to Judge Jurden and the Superior Court.”  (Emphasis is mine.)

I do not know what kind of court system they are running in Delaware, but nobody I have ever known would consider this an appropriate sentence.  And, if we take a look at the tens of thousands of signatures from all over the world on just one of the several petitions to remove Judge Jurden from the bench, I feel confident in saying to Mr. Kirk… “NO, MOST OF US WOULD NOT CONSIDER THE SENTENCE APPROPRIATE!!  And furthermore… What the hell is wrong with you??”

I find it disturbing that this decision is being defended at such high levels.  It makes me (and many others) wonder how deep the corruption/dysfunction goes in Delaware’s legal system.

As a survivor of similar abuse, I know firsthand how devastating and long term the impact can be, not just to the survivors, but to the people around them too.  These children will carry the scars for a lifetime, and my heart breaks for them and for their mother, because they have all been forced to carry this unfair burden, imposed on them by someone unfit to be called “father”, who might never see the inside of a prison cell for his actions.  Their father did not protect them, and neither did the legal system.  Who will these children be able to trust when they are older?

However, there are thousands upon thousands of us who have been standing up for those kids.  Someday, these children will be old enough to find all this information online.  I hope what they see is that there are so many of us, even from so far away, who know they deserve better.  I also hope they ignore the comments people make about how this has “ruined their lives” or “killed their souls”.  While the scars and baggage of this will create very different lives than they might have otherwise had, and while the burden might seem exceeding heavy at times, their souls are still alive and are still theirs.  Though it is true they will never be the same, they will survive, like so many of us do, with no thanks to the monsters in our lives who would try to destroy us.  I hope those kids see that, in spite of all the wrong lessons they learned at such an early age, the world isn’t all bad and there are a lot of kind, caring people.  And, I hope they quickly unlearn all those wrong lessons their “father” taught them.

While Richards may have escaped prison, he can now bear the stigma of the “pedophile” label for the rest of his life.  But it isn’t enough.  I hope his ex-wife wins big in the civil suit.  While the money will not return what was taken from those children, it will at least be some acknowledgement that they were terribly wronged by this animal.  Ideally, they will get everything he owns and he will have to get off his ass and work for a living– and good luck finding a job, now that he’s on the sex offenders’ registry.

As for the judge, if it is true that she was only going on the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney, then they should both be fired.  They obviously have no concept of the lifelong struggle of surviving early childhood abuse, and do not take the protection of the most helpless in society seriously enough.  And, the individual who called this sentence “appropriate” should probably be ousted, too.

When our public servants are no longer protecting us as they should, it is time to get new public servants.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: