Complaints have been pouring in against a judge after he said a convicted rapist was a good man who just did a bad thing. One of the victims said that the judge seemed to have more sympathy for the rapist than for the victims. Many believe it sends the wrong message to survivors of sexual assault.
Julia Kirby was 19-years-old when she was staying at the home of Keith Robert Vallejo. In 2013, Vallejo, a Mormon bishop, violated his young guest.
A year later, a 17-year old staying with Vallejo told Kirby that the man had groped and raped her while she was sleeping on his sofa. The two teens decided to go together and tell the police.
Vallejo maintained his innocence during his trial. His brother compared him to Jesus. Fifty pages were submitted to the judge by character witnesses raving that Vallejo was a wonderful guy.
Vallejo was eventually found guilty of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape. He was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison, and the judge presiding over the case said some startling things.
Judge Thomas Low said during the sentencing, "The court has no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man... but great men sometimes do bad things.”
The shocking comment had a lot of people doing a double take, particularly Kirby. “[Judge Low] only cared about the person he was convicting, and I think that is really kind of despicable,” she said.
Prosecutor Ryan McBride said the letters from Low's congregation might have persuaded the judge. “I don't think it’s wrong to acknowledge the good things that someone has done in their lives. But I think whenever you do that in a case like this, you've also got to say, 'But it doesn't excuse what you've done.'”
Kirby is planning to file a complaint officially against Low, and hopes he'll be removed from the bench.
Vallejo has been terminated by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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