Can an 11-year-old tango?

Judge's remark: Montgomery County jurist unfairly blamed girl for having sex with a 23-year-old.

January 18, 2000

IT TAKES two to tango, according to a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge. Even if one of the partners is an 11-year-old girl and that tango involves smoking, alcohol consumption and oral sex.

That's not a social dance; it's statutory rape and molestation.

Unfortunately, Judge Durke G. Thompson decided to blame the young victim instead of putting responsibility where it belonged: with the 23-year-old man who used an Internet chat room to meet and then have illegal sex with a child.

If the judge had discovered his own young child having sex in her room with an adult at 3 a.m., would he point a finger at the girl or the perpetrator? Judge Thompson has apologized for his remarks. But he defended his mild sentence -- 18 months in county jail, three years' probation and alcohol counseling.

For a man who engaged in illegal sex in the young girl's own bedroom in the middle of the night? He needed to be dealt with sternly.

Once again, a state judge is displaying insensitivity to a female crime victim, something that is happening far too frequently. It cries out for action by Chief Judge Robert M. Bell to ensure that every trial judge in Maryland receives sensitivity training.

A second-degree sex offense involving an 11-year-old is a horrendous crime. That's what Judge Thompson should have told the perpetrator.

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