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Leavenworth judge accused of victim-blaming two teens

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Posted at 9:32 PM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 22:32:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas judge is accused of victim-blaming two teens while sentencing a man who pleaded no contest to a sex crime.

During a sentencing hearing in December, Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens sentenced Raymond Soden to five years and 10 months behind bars. That’s eight years less than the sentencing guidelines in Kansas.

Soden had pleaded no contest to soliciting a 13 and 14-year-old.

According to court transcripts obtained by 41 Action News, Judge Gibbens said "I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct.”

The judge said the girls voluntarily went to Soden’s house and took money for the sex acts.

The deputy county attorney then questioned the judge, according to the court transcript.

“You had indicated that you noted that the victims were the aggressor,” said Deputy Leavenworth County Attorney Joan Lowden, according to the transcript. “Being as this for the electronic solicitation of the 13-year-old, is she one of the victims that you are finding to be an aggressor?”

Judge Gibbens then responded.

“Yes. I think that a 13-year-old who offers what she offered for money is certainly an aggressor, particularly since she’s the one that had to travel to Mr. Soden,” said Judge Gibbens, according to the transcript.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson is now looking into an appeal.

“These girls are definitely victims in this case,” Thompson told NBC News.

Judge Gibbens did not respond to NBC’s request for an interview.