[Vision2020] Montana Judge Criticized for 60-Day Sentence Handed to Man for Incest With Daughter, 12

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Fri Oct 21 08:44:43 PDT 2016

Courtesy of the New York Times at:



Montana Judge Criticized for 60-Day Sentence Handed to Man for Incest With Daughter, 12

A judge who sentenced a Montana man to 60 days in jail for incest with his 12-year-old daughter is facing a growing wave of criticism from those who view the sentence as far too light.

Since being posted a week ago, an online petition to impeach Judge John C. McKeon of Valley County District Court had attracted more than 55,000 supporters by Thursday afternoon, the most active item this week on Change.org, a petition-publishing platform.

The petition belongs to a newly popularized form of activism, in which critics of sentences perceived as too lenient try to harness the power of the internet to penalize the judges who issue them. More than 1.3 million people have signed onto a petition to impeach a judge similarly accused of handing down a light sentence for a sexual assault at Stanford University.

“It is time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets,” Justice4Montana, the group seeking Judge McKeon’s impeachment, wrote in the petition.

In Montana, the Legislature or Supreme Court ultimately holds the power to remove judges, according to the National Center for State Courts.

Under a deal with the state, the Montana man, a 40-year-old father of three, pleaded guilty to a single felony count of incest.

The defendant’s lawyer argued for 25 years of community-based supervision, Judge McKeon wrote.

The state recommended that he serve 25 years in prison, adding that he could argue for a less-severe punishment if an evaluator recommended treatment in a local community, according to the judge.

In handing down the sentence on Oct. 4, Judge McKeon cited just such a report, prepared by Michael D. Sullivan, a specialist who has performed more than 2,000 evaluations over a nearly 30-year career.

Mr. Sullivan, who performed a psychosexual evaluation of the victim’s father, found that he could “be safely treated and supervised” in a local community and that such treatment was available, the judge wrote in his ruling.

Judge McKeon also cited statements from the victim’s mother and maternal grandmother, both of whom acknowledged the “horrible” nature of the crime while seeking leniency.

“He needs help — not to spend 25 years locked up,” the victim’s mother wrote. His two sons need their father, she added, “even with very understandable restrictions.”

Those sons would be “devastated” were he no longer in their lives, the maternal grandmother wrote.

Weighing all of those factors, as well as the support of the defendant’s church, Judge McKeon said, he imposed a 30-year prison sentence, all of it suspended so long as the man meets certain terms.

Those conditions included serving 60 days in jail (he is getting credit for 17 days that he has already served), registering as a sex offender and paying for his daughter’s past and future medical expenses, including counseling, therapy and treatment.

“The sentence may not be a popular decision by certain members of the general public but it is a just and proper decision,” Judge McKeon wrote.

To critics, however, the decision represents a system breakdown.

“The victim only had the justice system on her side, and it failed her,” the petition organizer wrote. “Judge McKeon failed her. She deserves justice and together we can help be her voice.”

Whatever the results of the petition effort, Judge McKeon will be leaving his job fairly soon: After 22 years on the bench, he plans to retire on Nov. 30, according to the Billings Gazette.


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" 
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/attachments/20161021/7a0a68a1/attachment.html>

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list