State District Judge Jeanine Howard of Dallas has removed herself from a controversial rape case after questioning the victim’s innocence and sentencing the admitted rapist to community service at a rape crisis center. Yes, really. Howard voluntary recused herself following an interview with the Dallas Morning News last week, in which she said the girl, 14 at the time, “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be,” and the attacker, then 18, “is not your typical sex offender.”
The judge, a Democrat running unopposed for reelection in the fall, cited medical records that showed the girl’s past sexual activity and that she’d had a child. There were also texts between the victim and Sir Young, now 20, consenting to sex but not at school; both testified that she said “no” and “stop” before and during the attack in a music practice room on campus.
Howard used her broad powers and reputation for “creative sentencing approaches” to give Young 45 days in jail, five years of probation (including spending every anniversary of the rape in jail for those five years), and 250 hours of community service at the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center. Unsurprisingly, the center said no thanks and that part of the punishment is being reconsidered. Young faced up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to the rape his lawyer admits happened but cast dismissively as just “two kids messing around at school.”
“There are rape cases that deserve life. There are rape cases that deserve 20 years. Every now and then you have one of those that deserve probation. This is one of those and I stand by it,” said Howard in the interview that made the case national news. She also insisted, “I will always do the right thing.”
The victim, on the other hand, concluded, “It would have been better for me not to say anything.”