When Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. called a 14-year-old sexual assault victim and her parents up to the stand after sending the girl's attacker to jail for a year, the teen expected comforting words.
Instead, she and her parents heard a lecture in which the judge asked them if they had learned their lesson.
Beck had just sentenced 25-year-old Rodney Earl Miles to a year in state prison for pleading guilty to a fourth-degree sexual offense.
Court records show that in February, Miles asked the young girl to leave Cranberry Mall with him, go to a party at a nearby hotel, drink beer and then go to another party. While there, he pinned her down in a bedroom and fondled her.
After his guilty plea, Miles told the judge, "There's places for people like myself, and that's the Department of Corrections. Going to DOC is like culture shock. It's real. It's like a wake-up call."
Before imposing his sentence, Beck told Miles, "You're bright and articulate, and you're starting to get a grip. Your statement is well-received."
After Miles was escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff's deputies, Beck called the victim and her parents up to the bench.
"Let me ask you this, folks," the judge said, according to a transcript of the minute-long conversation. "What was a 14-year-old young lady doing at the shopping center that night? I'm just kind of curious. Have you folks learned anything from this experience?"
The judge continued, "You put yourself in harm's way that night. The only reason he was convicted under this charge was because he was more than four years older than her. Had she been an adult, that wouldn't have been an offense. I hope you've learned from it."
They have learned lots, the mother said, but probably not the lessons the judge had in mind.
"I was shocked at what he said," said the mother Friday. Her
name is being withheld to protect her daughter's identity.
"All of us were so flabbergasted to be reprimanded by the judge," she said. "This is really unfair. We had just spent months trying to get back my daughter's self-esteem. The judge ruined that in one minute."
Beck was unavailable for comment, and Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerney, who prosecuted Miles, declined to comment.
The girl's mother said the response was unexpected, especially from a judge. She said her daughter was unable to speak after the confrontation and spent the rest of Tuesday in her bedroom.
"It's like he's blaming us, like he's blaming her for being attacked," she said. "I think she felt the pain of that night all over again, like she was going through it again. I felt like we were all guilty before walking up there."
The mother said her daughter will probably tell all of her friends that if they ever become victims of sexual assault, they should keep quiet because it's not worth going through what she went through.
"What's done is done," the mother said. "I just hope this judge won't do this to another victim."