Kansas judge Michael Gibbens calls teenagers the "aggressor" in a sexual abuse case



LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) – Prosecutors are investigating an appeal after a judge in Kansas called two teenagers an "aggressor" in a badual encounter with a 67-year-old man and eased his prison sentence.

Michael Gibbens, district judge of Leavenworth County

sentenced

Raymond Soden in December to five years, 10 months in prison for requesting a 13-year-old boy on Facebook. Prosecutors had searched for more than 13 years behind bars because Soden had previous convictions, the

Kansas City Star

informed

Raymond Soden
Raymond Soden

Soden admitted in his request to know that one of the girls was 13 years old when he began to exchange messages with her online.

But Gibbens said the girls, ages 13 and 14, were "more aggressive than participants."

He cited that the teenagers had voluntarily gone to Soden's house and taken money for badual favors as reasons for their decision to give Soden a prison sentence that is eight years less than what is required by Kansas sentencing guidelines. Gibbens also questioned the level of damage suffered by the victims because they did not appear at the sentencing hearing.

Gibbens rejected the request for comments from the newspaper.

Leavenworth County prosecutor Todd Thompson said prosecutors are investigating a possible appeal but have not yet made a decision.

Harleigh Harrold, a prevention coordinator for the Metropolitan Organization to Counteract Sexual Assault, told the newspaper that children do not have the capacity to understand the consequences of such an act.

She said that the perpetrators attack children from problematic situations that may lack the support they need.

"It does not mean that children are at fault in any way or have the opportunity to give their consent in a relationship with an adult," Harrold said.

Michelle Herman, president and CEO of the child advocacy center Sunflower House, said that "badual badault is never the fault of the victim."

"No matter what the girls did or did not do, he is still the adult and no one deserves to be badually exploited," Herman said.


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