NJ Politics Digest: Judges Allegedly Mishandled Teen Rape Cases

Lawmakers and advocates around New Jersey are calling for the removal of two family court judges who allegedly mishandled sexual assault cases involving minors.

A picture taken on September 19, 2017 at Rennes' courthouse shows a statue of the goddess of Justice balancing the scales. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Gov. Phil Murphy says the “appropriate judicial watchdog committee” should investigate before any action is taken against judges whose rulings in separate cases involving alleged sexual assault by minors has sparked outrage. LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers and advocates around New Jersey are calling for the removal of two family court judges who allegedly mishandled sexual assault cases involving minors.

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t yet among them. As NJ101.5 reports, while Murphy said he was “extremely troubled” by how the judges handled the cases, he said he wants a “posthaste” investigation “by the appropriate judicial watchdog committee that exists.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney and a variety of other lawmakers have said the judges should be removed.

This latest scandal involves two cases heard by two different judges. In one case, Family Court Judge James Troiano ruled a 16-year-old boy shouldn’t be tried in adult court for raping a girl during a house party, videotaping it, and posting the video with the caption, “When your first time having sex is rape,” according to the NJ101.5 report.

Troiano noted that the alleged attacker was an Eagle Scout and had good grades from an excellent school. Troiano allegedly told prosecutors they should have told the victim that pressing the rape charges would ruin the boy’s life, according to the report. An appellate panel overturned the judge’s decision.

In the second case, Middlesex County Judge Marcia Silva refused to allow an adult trial for a 16-year-old accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Silva ruled that “beyond losing her virginity, the state did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental or emotional,” according to the NJ101.5 report. That case was also overturned on appeal.

In his statement on the situation, Sweeney didn’t mince words about his desire to see the judge’s removed, saying they have “shown an egregious absence of clear judgment, and if they are allowed to maintain their positions it will undermine public faith in the very institution of justice they serve.”

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