Editorials

After judge blames child victim in sex case, Kansas AG pushes for needed fix to state law

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has taken an important step to protect juvenile victims of sex crimes.

Under current law, Kansas judges can reduce sentences for defendants if the victim is found to be an “aggressor” in a crime. District Judge Michael Gibbens recently drove a truck through that loophole, drastically cutting an offender’s sentence in a sex case involving a 13-year-old girl.

The Leavenworth County judge said the victim and a 14-year-old were “more an aggressor” in their interactions with the defendant, 67-year old Raymond Soden. His decision provoked deserved outrage across the world. Young juveniles can’t possibly be “aggressors” in a case involving sexual relations with an adult.

Schmidt wants to change Kansas law to reflect that. Sentences could no longer be reduced for victim “aggression” in sex crimes if that victim is younger than 14 years old.

He would also eliminate the aggressor excuse in any human trafficking case, regardless of age.

“Child victims are not responsible for the criminal conduct of adults who commit sex crimes against them,” Schmidt said. He’s absolutely right.

The prosecutor in Soden’s case says he won’t appeal the sentence because of current law, so it looks like Soden will escape full punishment for his crime.

That is an abominable result. The Kansas Legislature should close this loophole without delay.

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