DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas judge has removed herself from a rape case after telling a newspaper that she thought the 14-year-old victim "wasn't the victim she claimed to be."
State District Judge Jeanine Howard voluntarily recused herself Friday from the case of 20-year-old Sir Young, who pleaded guilty to raping the girl in 2011. Howard sentenced Young to probation, which sparked criticism from prosecutors.
The girl testified that she told Young "no" and "stop" several times. But the judge told The Dallas Morning News that she questioned the veracity of the teen's story.
"She wasn't the victim she claimed to be," Howard said. "He is not your typical sex offender."
The judge said the teen had agreed to have sex with Young, just not at school. Howard said medical records suggested that the girl had three sexual partners and had given birth, which her mother denies.
"There are rape cases that deserve life. There are rape cases that deserve 20 years," Howard told the newspaper. "Every now and then you have one of those that deserve probation. This is one of those and I stand by it."
Two phone messages left at Howard's courtroom on Monday by The Associated Press weren't returned. Howard told the Morning News last week that she intended to recuse herself from the case so that she could explain her decision.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said his prosecutors had pushed for five years' prison time. He also said the judge declined to require Young to follow standard sex offender requirements such as attending treatment, undergoing an evaluation or staying away from children. Prosecutors will ask the new judge on the case to order a full evaluation of his probation and potentially stricter conditions.
Young does have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and is spending 45 days in jail as a condition of probation.
Watkins said he was concerned rape victims would be more reluctant to cooperate with prosecutors due to this case.
"We have an inherent responsibility ... to ensure that they feel comfortable to deal with our justice system," he told the AP Monday.
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