She could have sentenced him to 20 years in prison after he admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl in her high school.
Instead, a Texas judge gave the defendant a 45-day sentence and probation after implying that the victim was promiscuous.
Judge Jeanine Howard told The Dallas Morning News that she based the sentence, in part, on medical records indicating that the girl had had three sexual partners and had given birth.
She told the newspaper that the victim “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be” and said the defendant, 20-year-old Sir Young, “is not your typical sex offender.”
Critics fear the decision could discourage other victims from reporting rapes.
“We’re certainly concerned about the message that’s being sent to victims of sexual assault,” said Andrea Moseley, chief prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
“We expect that our victims will be protected and that their reputations will be protected and that they will feel safe in coming forward and reporting these crimes.”
But it wasn’t just the sentence that drew criticism; it was the type of community service Young was also sentenced to.
Young, who was a schoolmate of the victim’s when the rape occurred in 2011, was ordered to serve 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center. The center later said he was not welcome there.
“Just having a criminal defendant in the office could be a triggering effect for many of our clients,” Bobbie Villareal, director of the Dallas Rape Crisis Center, told CNN affiliate WFAA. “It’s just not appropriate.”
Young’s defense attorney, Scottie Allen, told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday that he felt the sentence was “fair and appropriate” given the circumstances, and he agreed with Howard that his client wasn’t a normal sex offender.
“What we have here is an 18-year-old high school student who was very talented, very gifted,” Allen said, adding that Young had scholarship offers from a “couple of universities.”
Allen further claimed that the victim had agreed to have sex with Young, just not on campus, and “upon making this bad judgment, he admitted that he proceeded over her objections to stop, and he admitted that to the police.”
“We don’t think that he qualifies as your typical sex offender. This is not somebody who has preyed on some young kids or unsuspecting people.”
HLN reached out to the judge for comment, but she has recused herself from the case.
A new judge will oversee the case moving forward, including a motion filed by prosecutors to add more restrictive requirements to Young’s probation.
The victim told WFAA she was devastated by the sentencing.
“I was shocked that a judge, someone that I trusted with this case, would go behind my back, would go and find records and make these allegations that she knows nothing about,” she said.
Meanwhile, Young is serving his 45-day jail sentence. If he compiles with the terms of his probation, he won’t have a conviction on his record.