Judge Calls 13-Year Old Girl 'Aggressor' While Her Sexual Abuser Gets Light Sentence

Judge Michael Gibbens sentenced Raymond Soden to 5 years and 10 months in prison.

February 06, 2019

Raymond Soden [Leavenworth County Bar Association; Kansas DOC]

Raymond Soden [Leavenworth County Bar Association; Kansas DOC]

By: Catherine Townsend

LEAVENWORTH, KS — A Kansas judge caused national outrage while sentencing a 67-year-old man convicted of soliciting 13- and 14-year-old victims for sexual favors when he referred to the victims as the “aggressor."

Raymond Soden used Facebook to contact the girls and offered them money for nude photos and sexual favors, according to The Kansas City Star.

Additionally, Soden knows the girls' mother and paid her to do chores around his house, according to statements at the sentencing hearing. Through that connection, he is also acquainted with the woman’s older daughter, whom he described as the “pimp” for her younger sisters.

While Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens, at Soden's sentencing on Tuesday, did admit that he realized that one of the victims was only 13 when Soden began exchanging messages with her, he stated that he blamed the girls for "voluntarily" going to Soden's home. He also questioned the level of harm the victims had suffered since they did not appear at the sentencing hearing.

In court, Deputy County Attorney Joan Lowdon pointed out that legally, a 13-year-old "can't consent to anything."

“I think that a 13-year-old who offered what she offered for money is certainly an aggressor, particularly since she’s the one that had to travel to Mr. Soden,” the judge said. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.”

The judge also said he was “pretty familiar” with the girls and could not rule out the defense attorney’s claim that they may have been attempting to set Soden up in order to rob him.

Soden faced a sentence of 13 or more years under state guidelines, based on prior convictions for battery and sexual battery.

Judge Gibbens ended up sentencing Soden to five years and 10 months in prison. He stated that he factored in Soden's age, bad health, and limited mental capacity before announcing his ruling.

Child sex abuse experts have voiced their outrage following the sentencing. “These girls are minors, and are the victims, not the aggressors,” head of child advocacy group Sunflower House, Michelle Herman, said, according to the New York Post. “Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the girls did or didn’t do, he is still the adult and nobody deserves to be taken advantage of sexually.”

Prosecutors are now reportedly exploring the option of an appeal.

Read more: Fox 59, Kansas City Star

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