Sentencing/Post Conviction

Children paid for sex acts were aggressors, judge says while sentencing 67-year-old man

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Gavel and handcuffs

Prosecutors in Leavenworth County, Kansas, are considering an appeal after a judge suggested that two girls, ages 13 and 14, were the aggressors in a sexual encounter with a 67-year-old man.

Judge Michael Gibbens granted a downward departure under state sentencing guidelines in December when he sentenced Raymond Soden to five years and 10 months in prison. Now prosecutors and child-victim advocates are expressing concern about the judge’s comments during the sentencing hearing, the Kansas City Star reports.

Soden had pleaded no contest to soliciting a 13-year-old girl through Facebook Messenger and offering to pay her for nude photos and sex acts with her and her friends. Soden allegedly told police he knew the girl was 13.

The Kansas City Star obtained a transcript of the hearing. Gibbens said the 13-year-old girl and another 14-year-old girl had voluntarily gone to Soden’s home and had taken money for sexual favors.

“I think that a 13-year-old who offered what she offered for money is certainly an aggressor, particularly since she’s the one that had to travel to Mr. Soden,” Gibbens said.

Gibbens had commented on the 13-year-old girl’s statement to authorities that she felt uncomfortable about an incident involving physical contact.

“And so she’s uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off of, and was paid for?” Gibbens asked.

“Yes, judge. She was also a 13-year-old who under our laws can’t consent to anything,” the prosecutor answered.

The judge also took into account allegations by Soden’s lawyer that the girls had tried to arrange for someone to rob Soden, and that Soden had poor health and low intellectual functioning.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 13 years and 10 months in prison, while Soden’s lawyer sought probation, according to the Kansas City Star and earlier coverage by the Leavenworth Times.

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