A judge in Northern California apparently thought the “stigma” of being a registered sex offender was punishment enough for a man convicted of drugging and raping his sister when she was 16 and he was 19.
On May 17, Judge William H. Follett chose to sentence the now-20-year-old man to the lowest possible sentencing option – three years in prison – and granted him probation. Follett also sentenced him to 240 days in county jail at half time for the crimes of rape by use of drugs or intoxicating substances and incest. District Attorney Dale Trigg said the sentencing will likely mean the convicted rapist serves just 120 days in jail – and no time in prison.
Trigg told CNN that Follett, a justice in the Del Norte Superior Court, not only referenced during the proceedings the stigma the convicted rapist would face as a sex offender but also discussed the fact that the girl was not unconscious during the assault and had removed her own clothing during the assault. Trigg said those comments were “out of line” and blamed the victim.
The man was found guilty of plying his younger sister, then 16 years old, with marijuana “dabs,” a concentrated form of cannabis. According to court documents, he repeatedly tried to convince her to have sex with him, before raping her when she became too “out of it” to resist.
During the sentencing, Follett said he was swayed by letters from the family of the convicted felon but insisted the 20-year-old was not “getting off scot-free.” He also said he believed the man was “remorseful.” However, a previous probation report warned that the rapist “showed no real remorse and seemed smug.”
Trigg released a strongly worded statement to the Del Norte Triplicate following the sentencing. “In the wake of the case involving Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, the Legislature changed the law to make such crimes ineligible for probation,” Trigg said. “[The defendant] benefited from the fact that his crimes predated the change in the law and allowed Judge Follett to grant him probation.”
Trigg also compared the sentencing to the controversial case against Brock Turner. Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015 when he was a student at Stanford University. Turner’s case sparked national outrage when a judge sentenced him to only six months in jail. He spent less than three months behind bars before being released in 2016.
“In a lot of ways, this case is more egregious than Brock Turner,” Trigg said. “This defendant took advantage of a position of trust as this victim’s big brother,” Trigg said. “He knew she didn’t want to have sex with him. She told him that repeatedly. So he got her stoned on dabs he gave her until she didn’t even recognize him in order get what he wanted.”
A Change.org petition demanding Follett’s removal is circulating. While some news reports have identified the man convicted in the case, others – including POPSUGAR – are choosing not to reveal his identity in an effort to protect the privacy of the victim, given their familial relationship.