The justice system in America is designed to result in the fairest outcomes in any given case. Unfortunately, there are flaws, as is the case with any system.
One of those flaws is that not every judge is fair and just. A district court judge in Polk County, Texas, made that fact painfully clear with his recent decision in a child rape case.
According to KRIV-TV, Eli Binnion had been convicted of a rape that occurred in 2018. He was 19 at the time, and the victim was just 14.
What’s worse is that this was not a case of an adult engaging in sexual activity with a willing participant who was underage. KRIV reported that Binnion “forcibly sexually assaulted the child,” according to Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon, with whom the outlet spoke.
As a result of this heinous crime, prosecutors were seeking a 15-year prison sentence for Binnion. This seems justifiable, as anyone who commits such a disgusting act should spend a significant amount of time behind bars.
Instead, Polk County District Court Judge Travis Kitchens sentenced the convicted rapist to just 180 days in jail as “probation,” meaning that he would not face any official prison time.
Kitchens gave the sentence at a hearing on June 3. Hon told KRIV that the decision ultimately means Binnion will walk free in approximately 100 days.
The father of the victim is now expressing his utter frustration at the light sentence, and rightfully so. He spoke anonymously in order to protect his daughter.
“What is the judge telling our children when we try to teach our children to go to the police?” he asked. “Let the police handle everything. Let the law do it. That’s what their job is, and then this happens. You get a slap on the wrist.”
“No victim is gonna want to come forward and go through all of the struggles and all of the ordeal that they have to go through, just for the person to get out and walk free.”
As for the crime itself, the father said it occurred at a Hampton Inn during a Fourth of July celebration in 2018. He said his daughter was at their house and left with Binnion and another person to retrieve something from the hotel and then come back.
When they reached the hotel room, Binnion forced the victim onto the bed and forcibly raped her, Hon said.
The father told KRIV that the victim had known the perpetrator for years. He told them that he never expected Binnion to engage in anything like this kind of behavior.
When it comes to the sentencing, this father certainly has a point. Going through an entire legal process is no cakewalk, especially for a rape victim who is extremely young.
This is not to say that due process is not important, because it is vital to our justice system. However, once the process is followed and the perpetrator is found to be guilty, he deserves to face a punishment that fits the crime.
In this case, it is clear that a 180-day total sentence is not nearly harsh enough. The victim’s father argued that this is a failure by the judge that highlights the importance of local elections.
“Be careful what judges you elect,” he warned.
The victim’s family took particular exception to the fact that Judge Kitchens would not let them testify at the trial, according to Hon.
“They said that they didn’t want to hear it,” the victim’s father said. “Wouldn’t do any good. He already made his mind up.”
Mike Davis, Binnion’s defense attorney, said that the suggestion that Judge Kitchens barred the family from testifying was untrue. He said that he never heard the judge deny their request to testify at any hearing.
While Binnion was in jail as a result of the rape, court documents reveal that he “brutally attacked” a fellow inmate and ultimately broke the inmate’s jaw, KRIV reported. That is hardly behavior that warrants a shorter sentence.
Judge Kitchens did sentence him to three years in prison for that attack, but that sentence will be fully served “in a matter of months” since Binnion has been in jail since 2018.
By all available evidence, this judge made a horrible decision and is completely unqualified for his position. One can only hope that it does not lead to additional crimes down the road.
As for the victim and her family, her father’s deepest regret is that through no fault of his own, he was unable to obtain a fair outcome in his eyes.
“I promised my daughter justice,” he said. “And obviously I was wrong because the court system is not gonna give it to her.”
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