Judge explains reasons for offering accused rapist leaner sentence if he paid survivor $150K
BATON ROUGE - Last week, a judge made headlines for telling a convicted rapist he would consider reducing his 12-year prison term if he paid the survivor $150,000.
According to The Advocate, the judge has now filed a document with the court to explain his reasoning.
On Nov. 7, Special Judge Bruce Bennett sentenced Sedrick Hills to 12 years behind bars and then surprised the court by making the offer. Bennett says he hoped the offer would empower the woman who’d been attacked, as she was only 15 years old at the time of the 2003 rape.
But after leaving the courtroom, the survivor said she was not interested in getting any money from Hills.
Judge Bennett followed up in a filing titled, ‘Supplemental reasons for sentencing,’ which said in part, “If this mitigation alternative is offensive to the victim, she simply needs to do nothing.”
Bennet went on to say, “If the defendant has no funds, she need do nothing. If the defendant deposits the funds, she is at least partially empowered to control her own economic destiny and receive compensation for this reprehensible and life-changing action.”
In his filing, Bennett also implied that his reasons for making the offer had to do with Hills sustaining an injury from a truck accident and that if Hills eventually received monetary compensation for it, Bennett believed that should some of Hills’ money go to the woman he’d attacked, the compensation might eventually come in handy for her.
Bennett said at some point in the future she "may wish for or may desperately need financial compensation for the psychological injuries, distress, humiliation, and embarrassment she has suffered and, no doubt, will continue to suffer in the future."
Bennet felt his proposal of a monetary offer and his attempt to retain jurisdiction over the case might assist the survivor, as he believed that she "is now empowered in some measure by this court to control the progress of this defendant's punishment and her own future."
But Sue Bernie, a retired longtime East Baton Rouge sex crimes prosecutor, spoke out regarding the matter, saying the woman had already empowered herself by testifying against Hills.
“What’s important for her to know is it’s not the court that is empowering her. She has empowered herself,” Bernie told The Advocate. “She was empowered when she had the courage to confront him and tell the jury.”
Bennett says Hills was formally charged in 2014 after DNA evidence linked him to the sexual assault and then convicted of forcible rape and another sexual assault-related charge in August 2018.
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