What to Know
- Protest set for later this week demanding the removal of Monmouth County Judge James Troiano and Middlesex County Judge Marcia Silva
- The two New Jersey judges have come under fire in recent days for their handling of rape cases involving minors
- The protest is scheduled to be held starting at 10 a.m. Thursday outside the Monmouth County Superior Court
A protest has been scheduled for later this week demanding the removal of Monmouth County Judge James Troiano and Middlesex County Judge Marcia Silva after the two New Jersey judges have come under fire in recent days for their handling of rape cases involving minors.
Under the hashtags #RemoveTroiano and #RemoveSilva a protest is set to be held starting at 10 a.m. Thursday outside the Monmouth County Superior Court in Freehold.
“It is time to #RemoveTroiano and #RemoveSilva. We cannot allow this to happen again. Bring your signs, your bullhorns, and your anger,” the Facebook event page for the protest says.
The protest not only seeks the removal of both Troiano and Silva from the bench, but for the two to receive mandatory sexual assault case training.
The protest is being co-sponsored by Rutgers NO MORE, Our Revolution – Monmouth, Our Revolution Ocean County, RU Progressive/Rutgers fore Bernie 2020.
The ire of the public comes after Troiano said in his opinion that the Eagle Scout charged with assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a pajama party had good test scores and was on track to attend a top college.
According to an appeals court decision last month, the teenager sent friends a video of him having sexual intercourse with the girl, along with a text, saying: "(w)hen your first time having sex was rape."
Troiano, a retired judge who serves part time, called the encounter different from "the traditional case of rape," where "two or more males" attack someone at gunpoint. And he attributed the text to "a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends."
The judge wrote that the "young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well. ... He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high."
Lawyer Debra Katz said Troiano was redefining the legal standard for rape and should be removed from the bench.
Troiano has drawn comparisons to Aaron Persky, the California judge who presided over a notorious rape case against a Stanford University student and who lost his job in a recall election last year. Persky had sentenced swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman near a dumpster. Turner ended up serving just three months.
In the other recent New Jersey case, Silva said the alleged sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl by a 16-year-old was "not an especially heinous or cruel offense."
According to an appeals court ruling, the judge wrote that the victim said the 16-year-old pushed her, grabbed her hands, removed her clothing and penetrated her without consent, causing her to lose her virginity. The judge continued: "However, beyond losing her virginity, the State did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental or emotional."
In both cases, the judges ordered the boys tried in juvenile court, before the appeals court sent them back for reconsideration.
Teresa Younger, the president and chief executive officer of the Ms. Foundation, said cases like these show the deference often shown to defendants over victims — even when the judge, like Silva, is female.
Marsha Levick, co-founder of the Juvenile Law Center, called Troiano's comments "ignorant and sexist and appalling," but she does not necessarily think the case belongs in adult court.
"This case may also underscore how important it is to have judges serve in juvenile court (who are) well trained in aspects of adolescent development, and the many ways we can hold young people accountable for their crimes," she said.
NBC 4 New York reached out to the New Jersey Judiciary system in attempts to contact both judges and obtain comments. The court system did not respond.
NBC 4 also reached out to Troiano's son, who declined to comment on a New York Times report that there have been threats made against the judge and his family following the fierce backlash received after the judge's urged leniency for the teenage boy accused of sexual assault because he came from a "good family."