Judge excuses wealthy child-rapist from prison because ‘he would not fare well’

Judge Jan Jurden (Source: The News Journal / Jennifer Corbett)
Judge Jan Jurden (Source: The News Journal / Jennifer Corbett)
Judge Jan Jurden lets the rich and famous rape children without consequence.  (Source: The News Journal / Jennifer Corbett)

DELAWARE — A member of a billionaire family who received a felony for raping a child is dodging prison time because a judge says “he would not fare well” behind bars.  The judge’s preferential treatment exposes a glaring crack in the justice system.

Robert H. Richards IV admitted to both molesting his infant son and raping his daughter between the ages of 3-5.  He ultimately plead guilty to a single count of fourth-degree rape in a deal struck with prosecutors.   Richards is legally a rapist and is listed on the sex-offender registry.

Robert H. Richards IV, admitted child rapist.
Robert H. Richards IV, admitted child rapist.

He also happens to be fabulously wealthy, and apparently impervious to punishment.  His family owns the du Pont chemical company and has a net worth in the billions.  Richards is heir to the du Pont fortune.  When not sexually-abusing innocent children, Richards lives in a multi-million dollar mansion, surviving off of the wealth amassed by his forebearers.

The Class C felony of which he was plead guilty to could have brought him up to 15 years in prison.   Instead he will face zero years in prison, thanks to the suspicious leniency of his judge, Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden.

In her sentencing order, Judge Jurden wrote, “Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 setting.”  In Delaware, Level 5 refers to prison.

While offenders are occasionally given such treatment for non-violent crimes, and in extenuating circumstances such as failing health, it is perplexing to write off the sentence of a rapist.

“I’ve never heard of the judge saying in general that he is not going to do well,” attorney Michael W. Modica said to Delaware Online. “Who thrives in jail?”

Instead of hard time in prison, Richards will receive a slap on the wrist.  He will keep his freedom, participate in a “treatment” program, and continue to live a comfortable lifestyle — with orders to stay away from children.

While a great many crimes are over-punished in the United States, violent crimes such as rape and child molestation are not among them.   Millions of people have suffered much harsher sentences for offenses which had no victim and had no violent component.  In fact, a number of people in the USA are serving life without parole — for marijuana.

Some would suggest mandatory minimum sentencing, but there are compelling arguments against these one-size-fits-all policies, which many contend lead to prison overcrowding and a number of unforeseen injustices.  The best solution seems to be the hardest to attain: competency and integrity at the bench.

Was justice served by letting the billionaire rapist escape a day in prison?  Is justice for sale in Delaware?


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Petition:  Fire Judge Jan Jurden

Attn: Judge Jan Jurden
New Castle County Courthouse
500 North King St.
Wilmington, DE 19801

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