This sort of crap should never, ever happen anymore. And yet, a Columbus judge is still on the bench after behaving cruelly toward victims of sexual assault:
Rape cases are often settled without a trial so that the victim can avoid testifying and reliving the ordeal.
But Common Pleas Judge Tim Horton recently ordered two victims to appear in court, in front of their attackers, because he said he wanted to make sure that everyone understood the plea deals that had been worked out by attorneys.
One of the victims, a 13-year-old boy, eventually was allowed to give a written statement through his mother.
But in the other case, a young woman began to break down on the witness stand, and Horton, who has been a judge for three years, scolded her.
“About two minutes here, if you don’t gather yourself, I’m about to rip up this guilty plea, and this man in front of you is about to walk. So I would do your very best to gather yourself,” Horton said, according to court transcripts.
A victims’ advocate is outraged.
And Horton now acknowledges that he wasn’t at his best during those moments.
“I don’t intend to make this a trend,” he said. “I’m still evolving as a judge. (The woman’s case) was a plea I learned a lot from. It was not my finest plea.”
The 19-year-old woman was raped on a pool table with a knife to her throat at a party in Grove City in 2007. She said she thought the arrest of her assailant and a negotiated plea deal would end her trauma.
(Source: Columbus Dispatch)
Look, Judge Horton, you don’t get to “evolve” at the victim’s expense.
Since the 1970s, judges have had every opportunity to know that their job is not to put the victim on trial! Horton’s picture in the Dispatch article looks as though he might well have been born in the 1970s. He’s been a judge since 2006, so he’s neither a newbie nor a judicial dinosaurs. He represents a fresh, new generation of judges – and he seems to have a heart like a cherry pit.
Horton evidently wanted to push for a higher penalty and wondered if the victim knew that a longer sentence could be imposed. You can’t fault him for that. But why not talk to the victim and prosecutors privately, in his chambers? Why force her to testify in public?
And most of all: How could he threaten to tear up the deal and let a rapist walk away free, simply because the victim broke down on the stand? Not even the pursuit of justice can ever justify the threat of injustice.