We’re at a loss for words.
On Friday afternoon, in Superior Court Judge Benjamin Sison’s courtroom, a man charged with raping and impregnating a girl known to him when she was only 11, and in middle school, was allowed freedom while awaiting trial.
We also know the drill. This 38-year-old man is considered innocent until proven guilty.
But there are also times when, even before a conviction or guilty plea, a judge would impose conditions or safeguards – ultimately with the safety of the victim or victims and the community in mind.
In this case, the man accused of raping this girl in her home was allowed pretrial release under not-so-stringent conditions. He was released on a $100,000 bond which he would only pay if he fails to show up at a hearing in June.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, asked the court during Friday's hearing to at least place him under a third-party custodian. The judge decided that wasn’t necessary.
This man is known to this girl and her family. The allegation was she came home from school, drank a beverage that led to her falling asleep and when she woke up, she had been sexually violated. The man had been drinking outside of the apartment where she lived – that was her memory before she went inside her home, fell asleep and woke up to realize the trauma of having been allegedly sexually violated.
This man allegedly told her not to tell her family he was the one who made her pregnant, according to the prosecutor in court documents.
As horrific as this case appears to be, the brazen way this defendant has allegedly treated this girl after the alleged sexual assault should make us wonder whether some of our judges have become too desensitized with their day-to-day job in the courtroom that they’re not able to sense that certain cases call for extra steps – even at the pretrial stage – to protect apparent victims and the community in general.
It’s open knowledge our community is living in a heightened degree of concern over suspects or convicted criminals who keep getting arrested, released and then arrested again for similar or other crimes.
Judges, please do a better job for the safety of the victims and the community.
We know you have to strike a balance – ensuring a defendant’s right to a fair trial and judicial process. We do also know it’s your job to make calls that ultimately are aimed at keeping all of us safe.