All that’s missing is the word “affluenza.”
A Superior Court judge who sentenced a wealthy du Pont heir to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter noted in her order that he “will not fare well” in prison and needed treatment instead of time behind bars, court records show.
Judge Jan Jurden’s sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV suggested that she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards was a rare and puzzling rationale, several criminal justice authorities in Delaware said. Some also said her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is a justification typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists…
“It’s an extremely rare circumstance that prison serves the inmate well,” said Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O’Neill, whose office represents defendants who cannot afford a lawyer. “Prison is to punish, to segregate the offender from society, and the notion that prison serves people well hasn’t proven to be true in most circumstances.”…
Defense lawyer Michael W. Modica said he has argued that clients should be spared prison because of medical or mental issues, but judges routinely reject the suggestion. He said he recently persuaded a prosecutor not to recommend prison for a client who had cardiac bypass surgery while awaiting sentencing for a DUI, and the judge sentenced the man to home confinement.
“I’ve never heard of the judge saying in general that he is not going to do well,” Modica said. “Who thrives in jail?”
His ex-wife also accused him of abusing their infant son but prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to make that charge stick. They charged him instead with two counts of second-degree rape of a child over accusations made by his daughter, which would have meant two mandatory sentences of 10 years each. The D.A. later offered him a plea to one count of fourth-degree rape of a child which could mean up to 15 years in prison but which, inexplicably, carries no mandatory time. Sentencing guidelines for the crime suggest a sentence of up to two and a half years, although they allow for no jail time — and yes, you read that correctly. Richards took the plea, leaving his fate to the judge. Sentence: Eight years in prison — all suspended in favor of probation because, she said, prison would be a rough on the 6’4″ healthy defendant. All of which is to say, it sounds like there were three distinct failures here. The prosecutor, who may have had good intentions in wanting to spare Richards’s daughter the ordeal of a trial, offered him a plea bargain that was too lenient. The sentencing guidelines, for whatever strange reason, actually contemplated a sentence like that for a crime as horrendous as child rape. And the judge, rather than mandate protective custody for Richards in prison so that other inmates couldn’t exact “rough justice,” decided to let him off with a wrist slap instead. All of this happened in 2009 and only recently came to light, by the way. What this guy has been up to since then, and whether any of it gave him access to children, is anyone’s guess.
Here’s the kicker, just to make sure your day’s thoroughly ruined.