So, here in the Monica Goodling-influenced legal era it wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear an attorney claim that since Bill Gates has so much money his client’s trial for embezzling $1,000,000 should be held in small claims court. Nor in the Fred Fielding / Harriet Meirs-influenced era would be par for the course for an attorney asked for armed robbery charges be dropped because his client’s victim was a communist who doesn’t believe in private property. And especially in the Alberto Gonzales-inspired legal era, where the underside of one’s shoe in a dog park has more honor, integrity, dignity, and honesty than the nation’s top lawyer, it shouldn’t surprise us that an attorney would argue his client’s multiple-rape-at-gunpoint sentences should be reduced to simple armed-robbery status because since his victims were all prostitutes his only offense was failure to pay.
What should and does surprise us is that a judge, who really ought to know better, would buy such a whopper.
We now learn that last June a Washington State appeals court expressed similar surprise and told an offending judge that upholding the law is more important than upholding his personal prejudices and lock a defendant up for 30 years instead of 9 after he was found guilty of raping two prostitutes who had voluntarily gotten in his truck.
That’s good news for folks who recognize that even subsistence prostitutes are full-fledged human beings who deserve justice no less than anyone else. The good news, here in the land of serial murderers who are inordinately drawn to prostitutes, is that all four known victims are alive to see justice done.
Lighter prison term in rapes of prostitutes is thrown out
Seattle trial judge’s reasoning ‘clearly erroneous,’ court says
A man convicted of raping two women at gunpoint shouldn’t have gotten a lighter prison sentence simply because the victims were apparently working as prostitutes, the state Court of Appeals ruled this week.
Calling the Seattle trial judge’s reasoning “clearly erroneous,” the court threw out Jeffrey McKee’s 19-year prison term, clearing the way for the Kent man to be resentenced to up to 30 years behind bars.
King County prosecutors were also pleased with the court’s ruling and the longer prison sentence it will presumably bring for the convicted rapist.
“Everyone deserves the protection of our laws,” Deputy Prosecutor Andrea Vitalich said. “The failure to protect the most vulnerable in our society is a failure to protect everyone.”
But as sentenced McKee, according to the appeals court ruling, [original trial judge Douglas] McBroom said the sex acts were against the victims’ will only because they didn’t get paid, and prostitutes were “a far cry from the innocent rape victim” that lawmakers envisioned when deciding the severe penalties for the crime.
The three-judge panel also rejected many of McKee’s claims, including an assertion that his crimes were more like robbery than rape, and that prostitutes are not as traumatized by rape as other victims.
And here are the relevant sections of the appeals court decision (emphasis mine)
The record does not support the trial court’s reasons for imposing the exceptional sentence. The State does not dispute the trial court’s finding that Korbut and Ray willingly entered McKee’s truck for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or some other illegal activity. However, contrary to McKee’s argument, these facts do not provide support for the trial court’s finding that “the presumptive sentence for Jeffrey McKee is far in excess of the top of the range for crimes that are even more brutal than the crimes committed by McKee.” This is not a factual finding, but rather a reflection of the trial court’s [meaning the trial court judge’s —fl] personal opinion and subjective belief that raping a prostitute is not as brutal as raping a woman who “did not willingly start off ready to perform a sex act.” Thus, it is clearly erroneous.
We also reject McKee’s claim that the trial court’s reasons for imposing the [greatly reduced —fl] sentence were substantial and compelling because his crimes were more like robbery than rape, and because prostitutes are not as traumatized by rape as other victims are. The court’s conclusions of law stated that “[o]peration of the multiple offense policy of RCW 9.94A.589 . . . results in a presumptive sentence that is clearly excessive” because they “were initiators and/or willing participants in the illicit circumstances, or precursor offenses, leading to their rapes.”
At sentencing, the court explained that the sexual relations were against the victims’ will only in the sense that they did not get paid, and that prostitutes are a “far cry from the innocent rape victim” the Legislature envisioned when enacting the very severe penalties for this crime. We disagree.
The fact that Korbut and Ray may have been willing to have sex for money does not trivialize the trauma of being raped at gunpoint orally, vaginally, and anally. Such crimes are extremely egregious no matter whom they are perpetrated against. Korbut and Ray were in no sense willing participants in these acts. Accordingly, we hold that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing a sentence that was too lenient under the circumstances, and we remand to the trial court for resentencing within the standard range.
Always nice, and a bit of a surprise (even though it shouldn’t have to be) any time American-style justice and the rule of law pops up in today’s legal system.