Talk about blaming the victims!
Outrage is growing over a Kentucky judge who let a home invader who robbed a family at gunpoint off with probation after openly criticizing the victims for letting their child be afraid of black men because of the crime.
Judge Olu Stevens of the Jefferson Circuit Court appeared even more offended by the victim impact statements offered by the family who was robbed than he was by the fact that a crime had been committed at all.
Now, a movement is afoot to have the judge removed from office.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Jordan and Tommy Gray were held at gunpoint with their then 3-year-old daughter during a March 31, 2013, home invasion by two black men, one of whom was being sentenced for the crime in February.
Gregory Wallace, 27, had pleaded to the robbery, but Stevens declined to send him to prison, a decision he announced after a lengthy attack on the family whose home was robbed. The other home invader, who had a prior record, had already been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The judge was “deeply offended” at the portion of Jordan Gray’s victim impact statement where she described the effect the night of terror had on her daughter.
“This incident has had the most impact on my daughter,” Jordan Gray wrote. “She is in constant fear of black men. When we are running errands, if we come across a black male, she holds me tight and begs me to leave. If (she) is playing in a room and I walk into another, she freaks out. It has affected her friendships at school and our relationship with African American friends.”
That statement, one that the victim apparently volunteered in good faith, is seemingly meant to show dismay at the corrosive effect of violent crime – how it eats at the basic fabric of society beginning with even its youngest members.
Stevens didn’t take it that way. In fact he took it another way entirely – that the Grays are somehow to blame for the reactions of a pre-schooler whose short acquaintance with the world is based entirely on what she perceives.
Instead of being outraged at the criminal, Stevens vented at the victims.
“It troubles me greatly what this statement says,” he said at Wallace’s sentencing. “I would want to make that part of the record, I am offended by that.
“If the perpetrator had been white, would they be in fear of white men?” he asked.
“It’s not going to affect what happens here,” he said, but “I’m going to make this part of the record.”
He then sentenced a man who pleaded guilty to robbery – a robbery that involved breaking into a peaceful home and threatening a man, his wife and a young girl at gunpoint – to probation instead of prison. No matter what the legalities might say, that’s the same as freedom.
Stevens later went on Facebook to justify himself.
“Do three year olds form such generalized, stereotyped and racist opinions of others?” he wrote. “I think not. Perhaps the mother had attributed her own views to her child as a manner of sanitizing them.”
The victimized family and prosecutors were outraged by the judge’s remarks and sentencing, understandably, but legal experts and ethicists were critical too.
Indiana University law professor Charles Geyh told the Courier-Journal the statement left the Stevens’ impartiality open to question.
“While the judge insisted that his judgment was unaffected by the victim statement, the issue is whether a reasonable observer would think likewise,” he said. “Maybe not.”
Twitter commenters on Stevens’ Facebook clearly didn’t believe the judge.
@judgeolustevens Please apologize. Toddler bitten by white dog would fear white dogs. Unkind to blame parents for “fostering” prejudice.
— ⚡️TheAstonishingFMan (@AstonishingFMan) April 13, 2015
@judgeolustevens Your decision was clearly racial and shows why you need to be removed.
— Lisa H. (@mymac24) April 13, 2015
@judgeolustevens you’re pathetic. If roles were reversed how would it have played out? You’re a racist dirtbag
— Freedom.TCW86 (@timothyw8662) April 13, 2015
@judgeolustevens This man needs to be fired. He is not able keep his personal opinions separate from his responsibilities as a judge.
— Richard Regan (@regan_richard) April 13, 2015
@judgeolustevens your personal feelings don’t matter .If you are offended tough shit . That makes you a BAD JUDGE !
— joe (@stang289) April 12, 2015
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