FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Protesters gathered at the Monmouth County Courthouse on Thursday to demand the removal of three judges for their controversial comments in separate sexual assault cases.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, dozens of people assembled in solidarity for all sexual assault victims who feel they have been silenced.
The demonstrators were rallying against Monmouth County Superior Court Judge James Troiano, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Marcia Silva and Ocean County Superior Court Judge John Russo Jr., saying they showed leniency to rapists.
“These judges we are talking about today did not only fail to respect their victims but demoralized and dehumanized and dismissed their victims with their comments and their judgments and re-victimized their victims,” grassroots organizer Christine Clarke said.
In court documents, Judge Troiano described one 16-year-old boy who was accused of recording himself sexually assaulting an intoxicated 16-year-old girl and sending the video to his friends as a teen who “comes from a good family,” expressing concern about how the case could affect the Eagle Scout’s college aspirations.
Judge Silva decided that a 16-year-old male did not have to be tried as an adult for assaulting a 12-year-old girl, and Judge Russo told a rape victim to “shut your legs.”
“What about her? What about her pain? What about her future?” Clarke said.
Some lawmakers are planning legislation to require all judges to undergo sensitivity training to handle sexual assault cases. State Sen. Vin Gopal said he wants to go a step further and withhold tenure if they don’t.
“These individuals are supposed to be the best of the best. There are supposed to be no errors. There should never be a comment, ‘Well, why didn’t you close your legs?’ Or, he’s from a great school, you are going to screw up his college. That should never ever happen,” Gopal said.
Protesters told Baker they came out Thursday to stand up for all the victims that feel silenced.
“This isn’t a singular event. This a pattern of systemic disregard and disrespect towards survivors of sexual assault,” said Mariel Didato of Hazlet.
CBS2 reached out to all three judges and was told they could not comment on pending cases.
State Appellate Court judges reversed both the Troiano and Silva decisions and the 16-year-olds will be tried as adults, Baker reported.