PROTECT’s Virginia Child Protection Accountability System is Intentionally 'Hazardous' to Virginia Judge’s Careers
PROTECT(which is based out
has favorite Virginia Legislators to get Their Legislation proposed at the annual VA General
Assembly session for their Legislative Liaison Camille Cooper (who resides in
the same organization who’s PROTECT Act in WashingtonD.C.
has allowed for administrative warrants for sexual charges across the country
and who lobby for Alicia’s Law from state-to-state.
great pride in strong-arming, having their supporters flood Legislators phone
lines, and shaming Legislators in Committee meetings and to the media who don’t
immediately side with PROTECT. PROTECT’s supporters regularly leave Facebook
messages suggesting death by the States or by the public, physical castration
and forced organ donation for RSO’s and PROTECT allows such vigilante and
criminal comments to remain on their site. PROTECT itself has gleefully stated
that RSO’s who are sent to prison will get what’s coming to them by being raped
by other inmates. Nice, huh?
starting this blog in 2013 I have mentioned Camille Cooper a few times:
few years back (in 2012) PROTECT got a Bill passed to
create the Virginia Child Protection Accountability System.
Everyone (Legislators, Governor, Virginia Judges, etc) knew that the data
gathered from this “system” would be used against Virginia Judges by PROTECT
during the Judges reappointment hearings by the General Assembly if PROTECT
didn’t like the sentences being given by the judges in sex crime cases. I sat
in the 2012 Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission meetings while the Judges
discussed the true intent of the new law/system and I posted about those
meetings on my old website which is no longer accessible.
in 2016/2017 PROTECT is in Minnesota
trying to get the same system implemented.
ago on PROTECT’s Facebook page they posted a
message to their supporters and then a second message the next day on how
Judges have in fact changed their sentencing because of the Virginia
Accountability System, not because the evidence or defendant warrant the
crimes that deserve lengthy prison sentences and I personally think plea deals
should be eliminated completely from the U.S. Courts, BUT citizen’s criminal
sentences should NOT be based on a Judge’s fear his/her reappointment by the
Legislatureis at risk because one
Victims Group is going to stick-their-nose-in and complain about them.
Virginia has Risk Assessments, Sentencing
Guidelines and Mandatory Minimums which all layout the recommended sentences
for Judges to give in sex crimes within the Commonwealth. Also in Virginia ‘no
registration’ as an RSO is NOT allowed in plea deals, if the statute says Sex
Offender Registration then it’s a done deal, they register. Plus….no
parole in VA! Per the data
presented at the VCSC over the last 5 years I’ve been attending we know for a
fact that Virginia’s
Judges are well within the
PROTECT doesn’t like the sex crime sentencing process and guidelines in Virginia then they
should lobby to change them, but instead they took the easiest (and
lowest) route by going
after the Judges jobs.
PROTECT’s Recent Facebook posts:
When PROTECT kicked off our Sunlight Project in Virginia, we went after public information
aggressively, using both legislation to require public release of data and the
Freedom of Information Act. A picture began to emerge of performance by child
protection agencies, prosecutors and judges. PROTECT focused on judges, who are
appointed and reappointed by the state legislature, not
Accountability Project looked at sentencing patterns on crimes against children.
Very few child sexual assault cases make it all the way through the criminal
process, and of those, the public has a right to know how these sex offenders
are being held accountable.
County by county,
city by city. What we found in the sentencing data was not surprising to us:
we’d been hearing as much anecdotally for decades. But it was surprising to the
members of the General Assembly, who set penalty ranges for these crimes and it
was to the public.
illuminated the overwhelming degree of lenient sentencing resulting from
state-sanctioned agreements, or plea deals. Judges were rubber stamping
ridiculously low sentences for crimes as horrific as rape of a child, and
aggravated sexual battery of a child under 13, by force, with injury.
For the first time
in history, Judges had to come to their re-appointment hearing defending their
Judicial Accountability Project in Virginia, judges approved sweetheart plea
deals in child abuse cases every day without much worry about public scrutiny.
But after numerous judges faced withering questions about
their records in reappointment hearings—entirely due to PROTECT’s Sunlight
Project—word spread like wildfire round the Commonwealth that rubber-stamping
light sentences in cases involving child victims could be hazardous to your
career. PROTECT’s Sunlight Project became the topic of heated debate and
discussion among prosecutors, judges, and was even the subject of a university
What’s at stake in
the courtroom process and what does it look like when the culture starts to
authorities brought charges against 27-year-old William Thomas Gendron, after a
teenage girl’s texts to a friend revealed she had been raped by Gendron at the
age of 7 or 8. Prosecutors, as is often the case, offered Gendron a plea
bargain of just five months in jail. That’s an everyday occurrence in
courthouses across the nation, but it wasn’t the end of the story.
When the plea
agreement was presented to Judge Michael Levy, he rejected it outright, saying
it was too lenient. Prosecutors then went down the hall to another judge,
Charles Sharp. Once again, they were sent packing.
When they got to
Judge Number Three, Victoria Willis, there was no easy plea deal. The case went
before a jury. Instead of five months, Gendron was sentenced to 26 years behind
bars (65 years with 39 years suspended).