US judge suggests $1 fine for each time teen inappropriately touched victim

Judge Lester Nauhaus (Supplied)
Judge Lester Nauhaus (Supplied)

A senior judge in the US state of Pennsylvania is under scrutiny after suggesting a fine of $1 for each time a man inappropriately touched his 15-year-old victim.

In late April, Judge Lester Nauhaus was hearing an appeal from an 18-year-old who'd been fined US$300 (NZ$433.59) for harassment, including inappropriate sexual touching.

The girl was walking down the hallway at her school when the defendant, a football player, grabbed her crotch. When she pushed him away, he did it again.

The defendant's lawyer said the fine was being challenged because her client could not pay it.

Judge Nauhaus instead ordered him to serve 90 days probation and do 20 hours of community service, but in considering whether or not he should still be fined, he asked how many times he'd touched the victim.

When he was told "about six", Judge Nauhaus suggested imposing a US$6 fine.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, District Attorney Jeff Tisak then interrupted, saying "It is highly inappropriate to tell a young girl that inappropriate touching is worth a dollar a time".

"What do you want me to fine him?" the judge replied. "He doesn't have any money."

He continued "I feel badly for the victim. I really do…but there really isn't much I can do."

Judge Nauhaus later told the Post-Gazette he wasn't trying to minimise what happened but was simply trying to find out what the defendant's lawyer wanted.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's office now says it will report Judge Nauhaus' behaviour.

"Such conduct has no place in our system and the district attorney will bring it to the attention of the appropriate persons and, if necessary, the Judicial Conduct Board," said spokesman Mike Manko.