A man who pleaded guilty to drugging and raping his 16-year-old sister got away with a lenient punishment for his heinous crime because a judge thought the “stigma” connected with the criminal act was enough of a punishment.
Nolan Bruder, a resident of Crescent City, California, confessed to giving his little sister a light dose of marijuana, also known as “dabs,” before making sexual advances on her. He also made her smoke to the extent that she no longer recognized her brother before assaulting her.
Judge William H. Follett initially sentenced the 20-year-old to three years in prison. However, he then suspended all but 240 days in county jail — a grant of probation for rape of an intoxicated person, according to the Del Norte District Attorney’s Office.
The judge also noted that the victim took her clothes off herself and wasn’t unconscious at that time.
Follett said he believed the "stigma" of the rape conviction, and the fact that the offender was being listed on the sex offenders' registry, was enough punishment.
Naturally, other judges who truly understand the magnitude of this problem disagreed with Follett’s decision. Del Norte District Attorney Dale P. Trigg said he "could not disagree more.”
"The message that this sends to our community is that sexual predators who get their juvenile siblings stoned enough can have sex with them without any meaningful consequence," he said. "That is not the message I want to send to our community.”
“In a lot of ways, this case is more egregious than Brock Turner,” he added, referring to the 21-year-old who served half of his six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at Stanford University.
“Under this interpretation of the law, a perpetrator at a college party who chooses to forcibly rape a conscious victim will go to prison,” said Deputy District Attorney Annmarie Padilla, who argued for a stringent sentence. "However, a different perpetrator at the same party who chooses to watch and wait for a victim to pass out from intoxication before sexually assaulting her may get probation. Whether penetration is accomplished through physical aggression [force] or predatory behavior is a distinction without a difference. Both perpetrators seek prey that are vulnerable; disadvantaged by his/her capacity to resist.”
If judges keep granting sexual offenders such lax sentences for such vile crimes, it will only brew a culture where rapists will have all the liberty exploit their victims. No one wants to live in a world that defends rape at the expense of honor or stigma.