A gay rights group criticized a Utah judge for bias after he called a convicted rapist a “good man” during sentencing.
Restore Our Humanity, a Utah-based human rights group that fights for same-sex marriage and survivors of religious sexual abuse, spoke out against Judge Thomas Low for complimenting defendant Keith Robert Vallejo during sentencing. Vallejo had been found guilty of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape.
“The court has no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man,” Judge Low said, according to Edge Media Network. “But great men sometimes do bad things.”
Restore Our Humanity claimed that Judge Low’s remarks showed bias toward Vallejo because of his religion. Low had previously received over 50 letters written in favor of Vallejo, “conceivably submitted by people writing in regards to the defendant’s service as a bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Vallejo committed his sexual offenses in Provo, an ultra-Mormon Utah city. Judge Law went to Mormon university Bringham Young, but it is not known if he himself is Mormon.
Judge Law’s statement deeply hurt one of the victims’ feelings. Edge Media Network writes:
Julia Kirby, one of Vallejo’s victims, said Thursday that she also plans to file an official complaint with the commission. She said she wants the panel to know that “it was mentally and emotionally damaging to hear the judge say those things.”
She said she was 19 when Vallejo, a relative, groped her multiple times when she stayed at his house while attending BYU in 2013.
Sometimes Courts Are Way Too Nice to Rapists
Despite his thoughtless remarks, Judge Low at least gave Vallejo a potentially long sentence: five years to life in prison. But other Judges have gone way, way too easy on convicted rapists.
In 2016, a California judge gave a mere six-month jail sentence to a Stanford University student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
In 2004, a UVA student pleaded his rape charge down to aggravated sexual battery and served a three-month sentence, delayed to allow him to finish his semester. Despite the incredibly lenient punishment, the student still complained a decade later that his life had been ruined because his criminal past got him banned from a Magic: The Gathering tournament.