As at Thursday morning, there were about 38,000 signed petition on a Change.org petition calling for his impeachment for the 60-day sentence he gave the Glasgow, Montana father who pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping his daughter.
Part of the petition reads:
“A father repeatedly raped his 12-year old daughter.” “It’s time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets”.
During an Oct. 4 sentencing hearing, Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jenson said Prosecutors had recommended a mandatory 25-year sentence, 100 years with 75 suspended, which is what state law calls for.
Rather than take the advise of the prosecuting team, Judge McKeon handed down a far lighter sentence: a 30-year suspended prison sentence, which means the man will only serve it if he fails to meet the conditions of his probation. (The Judge admits his decision in domestic-abuse case had ‘the most tragic result possible”.)
After the backlash he received for his sentence, McKeon tried to defend his irrational decision by sending an email to the Associated Press with several reasons for handing down the seemingly light sentence.
In the note to the AP, McKeon also referenced letters written to him by the victim’s mother and grandmother. Both letters requested the convicted man not be sentenced to prison.
The victim’s mother, who walked in on the man sexually abusing her daughter, wrote that the man’s two sons love him and she wanted his “children have an opportunity to heal the relationship with their father,” according to McKeon.
The victim’s grandmother called the man’s behavior “horrible” but stated that the man’s children, “especially his sons, will be devastated if their Dad is no longer part of their lives.”
Deputy Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen told the AP that even though the girl’s mother and grand mother pleaded for mercy on the man’s behalf, no one spoke on behalf of the victim, a 12-year-old girl, at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
The judge also claimed that news coverage obscured state law by failing to mention an exception to the mandatory 25-year prison sentence. According to McKeon, the law allows those arrested for incest involving someone under 12 years old to avoid prison if a psychosexual evaluation finds that psychiatric treatment “affords a better opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender and for the ultimate protection of the victim and society.”
The judge wrote:
“this is one of Montana’s attempts “to encourage and provide opportunities for an offender’s self-improvement, rehabilitation and reintegration back into a community.
McKeon’s email concluded:
“All district judges take an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of this state. These constitutional provisions and laws include certain fundamental legal principles that apply at sentencing, including a presumption of innocence for unproved criminal allegations, the varying sentencing policies and the government’s burden to counter evidence supporting an exception to mandatory sentence.”
Among those conditions, which McKeon said were “quite rigorous,” was the requirement for the man to register as a sex offender. He also cannot access pornography and has limited access to the Internet.
In addition, the man will serve 60 days in jail, but McKeon gave him credit for the 17 days he already served, meaning he’ll only spend another 43 days in jail before he is released from jail.
His defense hasn’t stopped the Change.org petition from wracking up signatures, though it likely won’t matter.
The petition to impeach McKeon read:
“No one spoke on behalf of the 12 year old child at trial,” it read. “No one. The victim was not given justice, but instead will have to live with the fear that she still has to face her rapist in their community. ”
McKeon, who has served as a Montana state judge for 22 years, is retiring next month, according to the Associated Press. Considering that an impeachment in Montana, according to the National Center for State Courts, requires a “two-thirds vote of the house of representatives and [a] convict[ion] by a two-thirds vote of the senate,” there wont be enough time to impeach him.
The organizers of the Change.org petition seem to understand this, though. In the petition, they wrote:
Judge McKeon is retiring very soon and does NOT deserve to collect retirement from the people of Montana. He did not fulfill the duties of the position we elected him for. He acted without respect for the laws of the state of Montana.
He did not take care of us. He did not do his job. We should not have to take care of him.