Judge threatened after lenient ruling for teen accused of rape

Said suspect came from a 'good family'

By Hollie Silverman and AJ Willingham, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

Judge criticized for ruling in teen rape case.

FREEHOLD, N.J. - A New Jersey judge who said a teenage boy accused of rape should get leniency because he came from a "good family" and received good grades is receiving threats.

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

Part of his reason for urging leniency in the case was that the boy came from a "good family," was in an excellent school, and was a candidate for a good college.

Now Troiano and his family are receiving death threats and there have been multiple calls for him to resign, according to a report in the New York Times.

Death threats

Multiple threats targeting Troiano and his family have been emailed and called in, according to a source who spoke with the newspaper.

The New York Times reviewed one email the source provided that said in part, "The whole country, including your fellow judges and judges superior to you, are telling you that you're a bigot and a detriment to this country."

The email also included a hope that a family member be raped "by a man stronger than you," the New York Times said.

The threats come as politicians and civilians call for Troiano to be removed from his duties.

One petition on Change.org demands that the NJ State Assembly impeach the judge, while a protest is planned for later this week.

'When your first time having sex was rape'

The teen is accused of raping a girl, referred to in court documents as Mary, which is not her real name, in a basement during a house party in 2017.

Mary was intoxicated, slurring her words and stumbling as she walked into the basement with the teen, court documents say.

She also suffered bruising and hand prints from others slapping her on her backside, which she told her mother about the next day, documents say.

The accused teen allegedly recorded the assault, shared it with friends, and texted friends "[w]hen your first time having sex was rape," according to court documents.

In the recording, the girl's bare torso is exposed and her head is repeatedly banged against a wall, court documents say.

Court documents show the teen circulated the video for months after the girl asked for him to stop.

Mary and her family decided to press charges months later when the defendant continued to share the recording.

'Sophisticated and predatory'

The accused teen's actions were deemed "sophisticated and predatory" by prosecutors who pushed for his case to be moved out of the juvenile court system so he could be tried as an adult.

But Troiano said in his 2018 denial that the teen's actions were not predatory and not necessarily rape because "traditional" rape cases involve "two or more generally males involved, either at gunpoint or weapon, clearly manhandling a person."

In June, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court reversed Troiano's decision and sent the case back down for further judgment.

The appeal claimed that Troiano "erred in denying the waiver motion because, in the process, he substituted his judgment for that of the prosecutor."

Judges in the appeals court agreed, citing Troiano's mention of the boy's background as problematic. "That the juvenile came from a good family and had good test scores we assume would not condemn the juveniles who do not come from good families and do not have good test scores from withstanding waiver applications," the appeal read.

Next steps in the appeal

Monmouth County prosecutors are now plotting their next move and could indict the defendant in criminal court because of the appeal.

"While we have the utmost respect for the Family Court and the judge in this case, we are grateful that the Appellate Division agreed with our assessment that this case met the legal standards for waiver to Superior Court," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. "As with all cases, we are assessing our next steps, which will include discussions with the victim and her family."

New Jersey Courts Director of Communications Peter McAleer told CNN last week that Troiano has no comment on the recent developments in the case.

The defendant's attorney did not respond to a request for comment last week.

CNN's Carma Hassan and Taylor Romine contributed to this report

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