Judge Thinks Sexual Violence Deserves to Go Unpunished

Via Abyss2Hope, it looks like we’ve got yet another rape apologist judge on our hands. This one is from New Zealand, and proclaimed in open court that she wishes she didn’t have to punish a sex offender, because other than beating and attempting to rape a woman in a dark alley, he’s a good person.

A visibly upset judge today told a teenager convicted of sexual violation: “If I had my way I would release you today, but I can’t.”

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish spoke of the youth, naivety, and the good family background of Maia Crawford Rongonui who had attacked a young Australian woman tourist in a dark Christchurch street.

“If I had it within my power today I would release you to your family,” the judge said.

“They would ensure you would do anything not to come back to court.”

Instead, she jailed the 19-year-old for four years after he was convicted by a jury of assaulting the woman with intent to commit rape, and sexually violating her by unlawful sexual connection.

Rongonui, a shearer from Masterton, was only 17 when he committed the attack.

The judge said she was worried about the effect prison would have on the teenager.

“I have some concerns, as your mother does, about you being corrupted while in jail.”

There are several flaws of logic here. The first is the presumption that if, for the sake of argument, Rongonui was a good person, it would make him undeserving of punishment for his malicious and trauma-inducing crime. This is patently false and illogical.  The second is the idea that Rongonui is not already corrupted. I fully admit that jail is not often a rehabilitative place, but to suggest that an attempted rapist is a good guy who jail will turn into a bad guy is absurd. You try to rape someone, you’re already pretty fucking corrupt.  The third is that a family, however well-meaning, can necessarily prevent a person from committing rape.  I do think that support systems can sometimes be integral, but if Rongonui’s family was so good at preventing him from raping, he wouldn’t be in court for an attempted rape.  If they were so good at keeping him out of court, he wouldn’t have obtained the 18 convictions over 5 months that Judge Farish seems to completely disregard.

The article continues:

[Crown Prosecutor] Mrs Thomas said she believed Rongonui still did not fully accept what had happened, and the crown believed the attack had been premeditated.

Judge Farish did not accept that. She accepted the victim was vulnerable because she was a visitor to Christchurch, who had lost her way and become separated from her friends.

Rongonui was friendly and offered to show her the way to her backpackers’ hostel.

Instead, he led her down a dark inner city street, Aberdeen Street off Manchester Street.

Judge Farish said she believed Rongonui had been hopeful of a sexual encounter, and something snapped when the woman rebuffed him.

He punched her and kicked her as well as trying to remove her pants. The woman fought back and was able to escape, but semen from Rongonui was found on her clothing.

Mrs Thomas told the court the woman — now a student living on Queensland’s Gold Coast — had significant and ongoing effects from the attack.

Defence counsel Simon Shamy said Rongonui had been an immature 17-year-old at the time of the offence.

Judge Farish said Rongonui had left school at age 14 and had excelled in his work as a shearer.

But he had inexplicably come to the attention of the authorities at the age of 17, amassing 18 convictions over five months, including the two today.

And still more problems abound. First of all, it doesn’t make a difference to Rongonui’s victim and any other woman he may have attacked what his twisted, sadistic reasoning was. I personally feel no better about Rongnoui assuming that he was some deluded twit who thought a stranger would have sex with him in a dark alley, and then “snapped” when he realized how ludicrous he was being.  The results are the same, so let’s cut the “crime of passion” bullshit. Secondly, Farish’s own logic points out the very reason why if she is right about Rongonui’s motive, she is wrong about everything else. As Marcella says:

If the reality in this teen is that “something snapped” then no family support will help him because his crime wasn’t caused by decision making. Instead you are positioning him as a feral animal that can’t help but attack. If he is someone who will snap every time someone rebuffs him, prison is an absolute necessity for public safety.

Or at least a mental hospital.

And for the very last time, to every judge and defense attorney out there: “immaturity” is not a defense for rape.  Immaturity results in behavior like name-calling, temper tantrum throwing, and laughing at fart jokes.  Not sexual assault. The only result of immaturity that has anything to do with rape is the refusal to take responsibility for one’s own actions.  By that definition, virtually every rapist on the planet is immature.  And if someone’s expression of their immaturity is to enact sexual violence on the people around them, they need to learn to grow up into big boys in playpens far away from the rest of us.

0 thoughts on “Judge Thinks Sexual Violence Deserves to Go Unpunished

  1. Will_Full

    I think it’s dangerous to assume that simply not bag up a teenager after their first offense is rape apology. It seems to me from the limited evidence that the judge was saying that this person was less likely to reoffend – less likely to commit further horrific and possibly worse offenses. If he wasn’t stuck into a systtem that almost always (in most countries at least I don’t know the specifics of Kiwi penal reform) fails young men he stands a better chance of rehabilitating, of realising how wrong what he did was and surely that is better in the long run.

    Of course he needs to be punished, of course a signal needs to be sent that sexual assault is not at all acceptable. But maybe, in this case, what’s right for society, and for the safety of women is a non-custodial sentence.

  2. Cara Post author

    It may or may not be his first sexual offense, Will, but it is definitely not his first offense overall.

    She provided no evidence that he is less likely to reoffend. None whatsoever. What she said is that she thinks he “snapped.” Someone who “snaps” at a total stranger for refusing sex with them in a dark alley is in fact likely to reoffend. The only “evidence” she provided, if she is in fact correct, is that this is a kid who has no connection with reality, no control over his actions, and cna’t be trusted.

  3. Cara Post author

    Also, I don’t have the time at the moment to look up the stats, but rapists are in fact very likely to offend more than once. And with the extremely low rates of rape reporting and much lower rates of convictions for those rapes that are reported, the conviction you get may be the only chance to actually protect the public by sending a rapist to jail. Because next time — or the time before that we don’t know about — it’s likely his victim will not come forward.

  4. Madrisa


    I wonder if the judge would feel the same if the young man had sexually assaulted her or her daughter. Why are her sympathies so much with the rapist and so little with the victim?

    I agree with you that this is not a nice young man with a momentary lapse of judgment.

  5. SunlessNick

    Rongonui was friendly and offered to show her the way to her backpackers’ hostel.

    Judge Farish said she believed Rongonui had been hopeful of a sexual encounter

    Under the pretext of giving her directions, he lured her to an isolated alley. You don’t deceive someone and isolate them from sources of help if you’re planning consensual sex.

    While you point out that the crime’s the same whatever the process that leads to it, I think it’s worth throwing in that his defence is as factually bogus as it is morally. This was a premeditated crime.

    Instead you are positioning him as a feral animal that can’t help but attack.

    It never ceases to amaze me how often it’s claimed that feminists are the ones who push this idea of men as uncontrollable wild animals. The idea that men can’t help it serves only rapists and rape-apologists, so they’re the ones who pushes it. It excuses men, even as it seems to condemn. But it’s a lie: we can help it. Rapists prove that every time they choose a victim, or plan an attack, so as not to get caught. And rape-apologists prove it every time they try to repaint victims as sluts/teases/bitches/whores – because if we really couldn’t help it, they wouldn’t need to blame the victim – they blame the victim precisely because they deep down know that it’s a lie.

  6. Rae

    But he had inexplicably come to the attention of the authorities at the age of 17, amassing 18 convictions over five months, including the two today.

    “Inexplicably come to the attention of the authorities,” eh? Could it have had anything to do with THE CRIMES HE WAS COMMITTING AT THE TIME? The judge isn’t the only one passing the buck here–I’m kind of aghast at the reporter who wrote the piece up.

  7. Ruana

    Now taking bets on whether the judge would have been so forgiving if it had been an out-of-town attacker and/or a local victim…

    Her excuses for him are so transparently ridiculous that I can’t help wondering if there’s something else going on here. I’d be interested to know how influential his family is; although I suppose it’s just as possible that the judge thinks a backpacker wandering alone at night is obviously a yo-yo-knickered tramp who led the poor nice boy on, but won’t come out and say it in quite that way.

  8. noble savage

    I have to wonder if Ruana is onto something and there’s more to this than meets the eye.

    The judge said: “I have some concerns, as your mother does, about you being corrupted while in jail.”

    It sounds like she really identifies with the mother. Perhaps she is the mother to a teen son herself? I’ve been doing some research and have found that a higher proportion of women who are raising boys (particularly if they are in their teens or early 20s)think sentencing for sexual crimes is too ‘harsh’ in some instances or believe that the girl/woman in question played some part in provoking her attacker than those who are raising girls. Interesting stuff.


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