US Judge resigns after saying alleged teen rapist deserved leniency because of his 'good family'

The Judge has stepped down.
The Judge has stepped down. Photo credit: Getty

The US judge who said an alleged 16-year-old rapist deserved leniency because of his "good family" has resigned following an intense public backlash.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey responded to a public outcry after James Troiano's insensitive comments from a 2018 ruling were made public by the appeals court in early July. 

The retired family court judge, who was taking cases on a 'recall' part-time basis, expressed his wish to resign and leave the bench immediately. On Wednesday the state Supreme Court issued an order for the immediate termination of Troiano's "temporary judicial service". 

On Wednesday the Supreme Court also announced the introduction of a mandatory training initiative for judges across the system. The initiative plans to improve the training of judges in areas of sexual assault, domestic violence, implicit bias and diversity, reports the New York Times.

In 2018 Troiano refused a request by the Monmouth County prosecutor's office to try the 16-year-old alleged rapist as an adult in criminal court.

Prosecutors said the teen recorded himself sexually assaulting a visibly intoxicated girl, also 16, in a basement during a house party in New Jersey.  He then allegedly circulated the video among his friends alongside the text "when your first time having sex was rape".

Troiano cited the boy's "good family", "excellent school" and "very high test scores" as reasons why the defendant deserved leniency.

He also expressed concern over the "devastating effect" adult court would have on the defendant's life, citing the boy's academic success and candidacy for a good college.

The judge went on to claim the act did not qualify as a "traditional" rape case as it did not involve two or more men holding a victim at gunpoint, reports the New York Times. He questioned the victim's level of intoxication and dismissed the text as a "kid saying stupid crap."

The appeals court admonished Troiano and later managed to overturn the decision in June following a 14-page ruling. The appellate court also warned the judge against demonstrating bias. 

The Supreme Court also announced on Wednesday its plans to remove New Jersey Superior Court Judge John F. Russo, who asked a woman if she closed her legs to try and prevent a suspected sexual assault. 

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