The Rich Are Different From You and Me

by Dave Schuler on March 31, 2014

Without further comment. An heir to the DuPont fortune has been put on probation for raping his 3 year old daughter because “he would not fare well in prison”:

A Superior Court judge who sentenced an heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter wrote in her order that he “will not fare well” in prison and suggested that he needed treatment instead of time behind bars, according to Delaware Online.

Court records show that in Judge Jan Jurden’s sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards confused several criminal justice authorities in Delaware, who said that her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.

Jurden gave Richards, who had no previous criminal record, an eight-year prison term, but suspended all the prison time for probation.

“Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 [prison] setting,” she wrote in her order.

“It’s an extremely rare circumstance that prison serves the inmate well,” said Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O’Neill, whose office represents defendants who normally cannot afford a lawyer. “Prison is to punish, to segregate the offender from society, and the notion that prison serves people well hasn’t proven to be true in most circumstances.”

O’Neill explained that he has previously argued that case if a defendant was too ill or frail for prison, but he had never seen a judge cite it as a “reason not to send someone to jail.”

He added that the public might come to see Richards sentence as the result of “how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system.”

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

PD Shaw March 31, 2014 at 10:42 am

From what I can tell, the main reason for the light sentence is that the Prosecutors dropped the Second Degree Rape charges, in exchange for an admission to Fourth Degree Rape, which carries no minimum sentence, and state guidelines suggest zero to two-and-a-half years in prison. The prosecutor recommended probation.

It appears to me that the prosecution is trying to deflect some of the heat by pointing to one sentence in the judge’s order, when the outcome was pretty much what was recommended. That said, I am sympathetic to prosecutor’s difficulty in winning cases that would appear to be a he-said, she-said with a three year old girl.

michael reynolds March 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

Zero to 2 1/2 means 2 1/2 could have been and almost certainly should have been the sentence.

But he’s white and rich. So, I guess 2 1/2 is the recommended sentence for poor, black child rapists and zero is for rich white men.

Guarneri March 31, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Or, alternatively, this is what happens when you have Democrat Governors (Minner) with self-admitted liberal social agendas appointing judges, speculative and idiotic racist notions notwithstanding.

Just sayin’

PD Shaw March 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

@michael, if the real story were published, I think we would find that the issue is that the system strongly values treatment (more so than I think is justified in child rape), and the ability to seek the best treatment is not independent of income.

@Guarneri, still it was the prosecutor’s recommendation of no jail time, that the judge approved. I more inclined to think the complaint about the judge here is to protect Biden’s son, the Attorney General.

... March 31, 2014 at 1:59 pm

If he raped a three year old, shouldn’t physical and medical evidence tell the tale without recourse to the testimony of the three year old?

... March 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The story I was just reading in USA Today said that after the initial arrest, Richards took and failed a polygraph and then confessed. He got the deal after that, at least according to the way the story is written. How do the charges get lessened AFTER someone confesses to all the states allegations?

And plenty of poor black and poor white child molesters get out with slaps on the wrist. I’m living in a neighborhood full of them.

PD Shaw March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Ellipses, I’m not certain there would necessarily be physical evidence of what he was accused of, nor did I see reference to physical evidence in the stories. Prosecutors offered a plea deal “just days” before trial. I can’t help but wonder if the prosecutors felt they were going to lose the case and a lesser plea and sentence was better than nothing. People probably don’t want to read the link, but it also mentions the pervert was a counselor at a children’s camp.

PD Shaw March 31, 2014 at 2:36 pm

I don’t know if the polygraph test was admissible. My link suggests that he volunteered for the test after he lawyered up, and if the insinuation is that the rich have access to high-talented lawyers who know how to leverage the system’s rules, then perhaps the polygraph test was a chance to win an acquittal, but not at risk of being convicted.

... March 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm

PD, I kept looking and found that information. I’m still wondering how there couldn’t have been some damage. One also wonders how many victims he may have had as a child counselor.

And okay, if the polygraph was inadmissible, wouldn’t the confession still count for something? Perhaps the story I read garbled it. (After all, it was only USA Today, and not a more credible outlet like the National Enquirer or US Magazine.)

As for the sentence in this case, it really isn’t all that much different from what I see looking around the sex offender data base of offenders that live within one mile of my house.

Really, go to a clerk of court site and look at the records. You’ll see people get convicted of multiple felonies for violent assault (some of it sexual in nature), be sentenced to ten years in prison, and within six months they’re out walking the street. Or driving the street. You can see this because they’re getting traffic citations in that time frame. Doh!

It isn’t really a criminal JUSTICE system. It is a criminal MANAGEMENT system. There’s a shit-load of churn (as we liked to call it in corporate bureaucratic Hell), people in and out of the institutions. Hell, my neighbor tried to kill a police officer with his bare hands and got … wait, let me look it up … a 1 yr 5 mo prison sentence that was reduced to time served in the county jail, 4 mo 28 days. And that was with a few prior convictions, including one for battery.

Basically, you’ve got to fuck up really badly, piss off someone within the system, or get a lot of media attention before you end up someplace really bad for a really long time.

Mostly it is about moving bodies around and convincing Jane and Joe Taxpayer that their money is doing SOMETHING.

* That would be 35 offenders. My daughter and I walked by a couple of their houses ’round about noon today. To the Drews and Michaels of the world that think being poor in America is great fucking fun, they can fuck themselves with chainsaws. Being poor, regardless of the society, means you can’t control your circumstances in any meaningful way. I don’t get to decide to live in NC today, Italy tomorrow, CA next week. I don’t move around to find preferable tax structures. I live within a few minutes walking distance of predators. And here’s where I’ll stay.

TastyBits March 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm

@michael reynolds

OJ Simpson, Casey Anthony, and George Zimmerman were able to afford a legal team, and they got off. If you cannot afford a top notch legal team, you are screwed. If you have political pull, the rules of political pull always apply.

The criminal justice system does not function the way most people think it does. The prosecutor throws as many charges as possible hoping a jury will think “where there’s smoke; there’s fire.” With mandatory sentencing, it is usually best to plea down a charge even if you are innocent.

I realize there is no convincing you, but others may realize what is wrong with the system. If you are poor and black (or white), you are going to jail. If you are rich and white (or black), you are probably not going to jail. If you are politically connected, you do not play by the same rules as the non-connected.

steve March 31, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Dog bites man. Wealthy guy with top legal talent going to jail? Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye a a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Jail.

Steve

Andy March 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm

steve,

Bernie Madoff would beg to differ.

michael reynolds March 31, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Tasty:

Um, this:

I realize there is no convincing you, but others may realize what is wrong with the system. If you are poor and black (or white), you are going to jail. If you are rich and white (or black), you are probably not going to jail. If you are politically connected, you do not play by the same rules as the non-connected.

Is exactly what I believe and implied.

... March 31, 2014 at 6:59 pm

It’s less a matter of going to jail than of which one you go to and how long you stay.

And rich people can go to jail. But that, as often as not, requires that the rich person have offended other rich or powerful people. Madoff didn’t go to jail for stealing money. He went to jail for stealing rich people’s money. And until the credit bubble exposed him, he was immune. Afterall, the case was presented to the SEC several times and got brushed off.

And didn’t Leona Hemsley go to jail? She got caught saying what to many believe and don’t want to acknowledge, so she was sacrificed to the mob, and no one liked her anyway.

Milken went to jail and was forced to NOT wear his toupee.

Here locally a well off and well connected man in a moneyed little town called Windermere got to molest children even though he was getting caught. But he was friends with the town police chief, who kept burying things. Eventually the perv molested a child whose parents had the pull to get things done. The perv and the police chief are now in jail.

It IS possible for the rich and powerful to end up in jail, sometimes even by a method that mist would call a proper course for an honest legal system. But they’ve got much better resources to fight for their freedom.

And poor criminals spend less time in jail than most suppose. But the system as it actually works is more a career vehicle for the ambitious or a dog and pony show than it is a way to mete out justice.

Michael Reynolds March 31, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I had some poor man’s justice. Then I had some rich man’s justice. I greatly prefer the rich man’s version.

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