This month, details of the 2009 rape case of du Pont heir, Robert H. Richards IV became public. Richards was convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter. He pled guilty to fourth degree rape of his daughter as part of plea deal.
This lesser charge allowed Richards not be tried or assaulting for his infant son as well, as Vanity Fair revealed. The most alarming fact of this case is the sentencing that Judge Jan Jurden handed down and her reasoning behind it. Jurden decided that instead of serving prison, Richards should have eight years probation and ordered to participate in a sex offender’s treatment program. The reason for this light sentence is that the judge felt the 6-foot-4, Richards who, according to The News Journal, weighed between 250 and 276 pounds would "not fare well" in prison. All of this information came to light this month after Richard's ex-wife Tracy, filed a civil lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the abuse of his daughter.
Many defense lawyers and prosecutors consider Judge Jurden a tough sentencing judge. Therefore, it came as a surprise to learn of the light sentence she handed the du Pont heir. It is no secret that other inmates target child abusers in prison. However, if prison officials believe an inmate's safety is a concern, said inmate would be placed into protective custody.
Prison sentences are a form of punishment handed down to convicted criminals. One of the purposes is to remove the convict from society and away from his or her victim(s). It is rare that one fares well in prison. Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O'Neill told The News Journal, he has never seen this being cited as a reason to not sentence someone to prison.
It seems as if the scales of justice were tipped in favor of the offender in this case. Many are wondering if the consideration over whether or not Richard's would "fare well" in prison has more to do with his being a du Pont than having to do with his safety. It now seems, where criminal court kept things under wraps, civil court is bringing to light. While no prison time can be ordered with this lawsuit, perhaps a hefty monetary judgment may be handed down.