By David Boroff
Two girls aged 13 and 14 were recently labeled "aggressors" by a Kansas judge who gave a 67-year-old man a reduced sentence for a sexual encounter with the minors.
Raymond Soden was slapped with a prison sentence of just under six years despite the fact that state guidelines called for Leavenworth County Judge Michael Gibbens to give him a 13-year term.
"I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct," Gibbens said in court, according to the Kansas City Star. "They were certainly selling things monetarily that it's against the law for even an adult to sell."
A criminal complaint obtained by the Daily News alleges that Soden engaged in "lewd fondling or touching" of a child last year and was charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child and electronic solicitation. Soden would plead no contest to the solicitation charge after being accused of luring one of the girls through Facebook.
He admitted that he knew the girl was 13 when he began exchanging messages with her and offered to pay for nude photos of her and her friends.
Prosecutors argued for a longer sentence because of Soden's previous convictions for battery and sexual battery. However, the judge said that the two girls had voluntarily gone to his house and had received money from him, according to the Star.
The younger girl had said she felt "uncomfortable" about something that had happened with Soden.
"And so she's uncomfortable for something she voluntarily went to, voluntarily took her top off of, and was paid for?" Judge Gibbens asked the prosecutor, according to the Star.
"Yes, judge. She was also a 13-year-old who under our laws can't consent to anything," responded Deputy County Attorney Joan Lowdon, according to the newspaper.
Gibbens responded that he understood, but added that "I wonder what kind of trauma there really was to this victim under those peculiar circumstances."
Soden's defense lawyer Clinton Lee argued that a longer prison term would have amounted to a death sentence, and said the girls tried to orchestrate a plot to rob his client.
The judge said that he was "pretty familiar" with the girls and did not rule out that they may have been trying to steal from Soden, according to the Star.
Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson told the Daily News on Monday that his office is looking into the possibility of filing an appeal.
"We always try to fight as zealously as possible for victims in every case," he said.
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