Judge who said teenager who filmed himself raping girl 'deserves leniency because he's from a good family’ gets death threats

Maya Oppenheim

New Jersey judge who said a teenage boy accused of rape should get leniency because he came from a “good family” has received threats amid a ferocious backlash against his ruling.

James Troiano denied a request in 2018 for a 16-year-old boy accused of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl to be tried as an adult.

The Monmouth County Superior Court Judge said the defendant “comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well.”

The teenage boy was accused of recording himself sexually assaulting the 16-year-old girl and sending the video to friends with the caption “when your first time is rape.”

Mr Troiano’s decision, which surfaced last week, sparked a fierce response and has been viewed as evidence the US legal system is two-tier and has different rules for those who are privileged.

The 69-year-old, who has spent almost three decades on the bench, and his family are now receiving death threats and there have been a number of calls for him to resign, reports the New York Times.

Mr Troiano and his family have received multiple threatening emails and calls, according to a source who spoke to the publication.

One email reportedly told the judge that should be raped by a man “stronger than you”.

A Change.org petition calls for the NJ State Assembly to impeach the judge and a protest is scheduled to take place at Monmouth County Superior Court later this week.

The threats come as politicians and members of the public call for Mr Troiano to be disbarred, including from Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker.

The New Jersey senator said: “Not only should this judge no longer serve - as he is clearly incapable of properly fulfilling his duties - but across the country, we must call out bad actors in the system, exposing their biases, and show women and survivors that we will doggedly pursue justice on their behalf".

The teenager is accused of raping a girl, who has been referred to under the alias of Mary in court documents, in a basement during a house party in 2017.

Court documents say Mary was intoxicated, slurring her words and stumbling as she walked into the basement with the teenager. They say she suffered bruising and hand prints from others slapping her on her backside, which she told her mother about the next day.

Court documents say the accused teen allegedly recorded the assault and shared it with friends – adding that the girl's bare torso is exposed and her head is repeatedly banged against a wall in the recording.

Mary and her family chose to press charges months later when the defendant carried on sharing the clip, despite the girl asking him to stop.

Family court proceedings are usually closed to the public but some of Mr Troiano’s remarks - taken from a 65-page transcript of his sealed decision - were revealed when an appeals court decision surfaced.

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court reversed Mr Troiano's decision in June - sending the case back down for further judgment.