Justice

Teenager's Sentence for Rape Completely Misses the Point

February 9th 2017

By:
Almie Rose

Cody Duane Scott Herrera, a 19 year old of Twin Falls Idaho was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl, according to Times-News of Twin Falls. Herrera will not serve jail time, and the judge placed an additional contingency on his ruling that many people are questioning.

Cody Duane Scott Herrera

The judge sentenced Herrera to a "year-long therapeutic prison program," with the caveat of celibacy during probation until marriage.

This means that instead of traditional jail time, Herrera will enter a year-long rehabilitation program for sexual offenders (The New York Times describes it as "a middle ground between probation and prison time"). If he completes the program, he will be placed on probation. Once on probation, the judge's abstinence clause would go into effect (no sex until marriage).

According to Times-News, Herrera pleaded guilty to statutory rape in 2015. Judge Randy Stoker of the Fifth Judicial District of Idaho sentenced Herrera on Monday and proclaimed, "If you’re ever on probation with this court, a condition of that will be you will not have sexual relations with anyone except who you’re married to, if you’re married."

judges-gavel

But in addition to ruling of celibacy seeming impossible to enforce (and potentially not allowed), there's a greater underlying issue.

"Wording it that way does seem to infer that this judge thinks this person is sexually abusing a 14-year-old due to sexual urges," Kristen Houser, Chief Public Affairs Officer at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told ATTN:. "I think this reflects that the American public is still rather confused about why people perpetrate sexual assault and the best way to deter them from doing so."

Multiple news outlets are reporting that he based his ruling on an Idaho Statute section 18, chapter 66 of sex crimes which states, "Any unmarried person who shall have sexual intercourse with an unmarried person of the opposite sex shall be deemed guilty of fornication, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished [...]," but this was not specifically mentioned by the judge during the sentencing. It's only speculation, fueled by the county prosecutor, some claim.

Judge Stoker did say he based his decision in part because Herrera claimed to have had 34 sexual partners, saying, "I have never seen that level of sexual activity by a 19-year-old."

No matter what his reasoning is, Stoker's ruling strikes many as missing the issue about what rape and sexual assault is about.

As reporter Brittney McNamara writes for Teen Vogue, "[...] the number of sexual partners someone has is not related to their likelihood to commit sexual assault. That's because sexual assault is not sex."

Misconceptions about sexual assault and rape are that these crimes are committed solely out of sexual urges. But there is a stark difference between sex and sexual assault.

"What we know is offenders have many reasons and motivations for perpetrating the act of sexual violence," Houser told ATTN:. "We also know that there are plenty of adult offenders who have consensual sexual relationships with partners and are perpetuating sexual violence with other people. The reality is sexual assault is perpetrated for a vast variety of reasons. Not all offenders have the same motivation. It is often a much more complicated combination of factors than simply sexual urges."