Sensitivity program for judge is outlined Comments in rape case provoked anger

June 18, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

The Baltimore County judge whose comments while sentencing a convicted rapist provoked a flood of complaints and demands for his removal will begin a specially designed, nine-week training program to promote sensitivity toward victims sexual assault.

Judge Thomas J. Bollinger will begin the program within the next three weeks. If he gives it a good evaluation, it might be used "to teach judges statewide and perhaps nationwide," said Susan Carol Elgin, a Towson lawyer on the state's Committee on Gender Equality. The committee was established after a 1989 study of gender bias in the courts.

The judge, whom Ms. Elgin said agreed to the program yesterday, did not return a reporter's phone calls.

Ms. Elgin said the only comparable program she knows of dealt with domestic violence and was presented to judges throughout Maryland.

In the first week of the 18-hour program, experts will meet with Judge Bollinger, review the reasons he was asked to participate and survey his attitudes. The second to fourth weeks will involve education about rape and sexual violence, using videotapes, readings and discussions with experts.

In the fifth and sixth weeks, a person raped by a stranger, a person raped on a date, a person who was abducted and raped and a rape victim's father will present their perspectives. The seventh week will focus on services, such as crisis counselors and victim advocates.

The final two weeks will include a second attitude survey and Judge Bollinger's suggestions for revising the program to present to other judges.

The judge's participation stems from comments made when he sentenced Lawrence Allen Gillette for second-degree rape on April 22. Gillette, 44, was convicted of raping a young woman who passed out in his bed. The rape occurred after the woman, who worked at a theater Gillette managed, met Gillette and several other young women at Poor Richard's bar last August.

Judge Bollinger gave Gillette probation before judgment, plus home detention and community service. He also ordered Gillette to stay away from bars and young girls and to pay for his 18-year-old victim's counseling.

Once those conditions are met, Gillette will have no record of the rape conviction. Second-degree rape carries a 20-year maximum sentence.

The sentence caused less uproar than Judge Bollinger's criticism of the rape law and the sympathy he expressed for Gillette.

During the sentencing, Stephen Bailey, the prosecutor, said Gillette's crime "was the culmination of many, many poor choices. This was his dream come true."

"The dream of a lot of males," Judge Bollinger replied.

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