The victim is content with Coconino County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Hatch’s apology so that should just about put an end to Hatch’s blame-the-victim sentencing comments. Whether the judge has learned enough not to moralize to victims remains to be seen.
Last week, Hatch sentenced former highway patrolman Robb Gary Evans to two years probation and 100 hours of community service for putting his hands up a woman’s dress and fondling her genitals.
But it wasn’t all Evan’s fault. The woman was in a bar and intoxicated so she is partly to blame, or at least that is what Judge Hatch suggested. One might expect this kind of thinking from some male judges, but as a woman and trained legal professiona,l Hatch should know a lot better than this.
The Arizona Daily Sun summarized Hatch’s comments:
The judge sentencing Evans, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Hatch, said she hoped both the defendant and the victim would take lessons away from the case.
Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was.
“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.
Women who go into bars just have to expect these things, or so Hatch appears to be saying. It does not matter that Evans downed eight beers and lost control of his inhibitions. Here was a woman at a bar and she was just asking her him to stick his hand up her skirt.
But there is more to Hatch’s advice.
“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”
What does friendship have to do with an off-duty, drunk cop fondling a woman? In Hatch’s world, if you are a woman in a bar, then you are just asking for it.
After making these comments, Hatch then said that she wasn’t blaming the victim. Go figure that. Hatch tells the victim she was assaulted because she went into a bar but it’s not her fault. She just should not have been there. It sounds like assigning blame to me, especially when Hatch followed her comments up with this one:
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.
If the victim is not to be blamed, then why does she have to change? And a woman who is fondled by a drunk in a bar should not blame her attacker for assaulting her? This is crazy.
It is not just bars that Hatch feels women should stay away from, either. She also said that going into grocery stores after 10 PM is dangerous. What? Going into a grocery store late at night and buying a gallon of milk is just an invitation for a sexual assault? More and more, it looks like the victim is lucky that she wasn’t sentenced while appearing in Hatch’s court.
There is danger everywhere in the world for women and men. The last thing a victim of a crime needs is a dressing-down from a judge when an attacker is being sentenced.
If not for his background in law enforcement, Evans might have a got a stint in jail. As it is, he was fired from his job. Yet the victim in this case faced community pressure as she pushed this case to trial. Besides being blamed by the judge for enticing Evans by her presence in a bar, some in the community were blaming her for ruining Evans’ life.
Former Flagstaff Police Lt. Randy Weems told Hatch prior to sentencing, “I don’t necessarily agree with the way this case got to be here…This is the second time in 25 years that I feel the system didn’t work.”
Wait. A cop goes into a bar, gets drunk, sticks his hands up a woman’s dress for a cheap thrill, and he should not be prosecuted? This is the thinking of some in Arizona law enforcement. With that type of permissiveness, it starts to make sense why Evans felt he could get away with doing this.
After a public uproar over Hatch’s sentencing comments, and a petition that has reached 15,000 signatures calling for Hatch’s resignation, Hatch apologized, stating, “My comments were poorly communicated and for that, I am truly sorry if they caused the victim further distress.”
Hatch reemphasized that victims are not to be blamed. That is obvious. Instead of the victim learning lessons from this situation, Hatch is the one that needs the education. Outside of expressing empathy to victims, Hatch would do well to stick to sentencing the guilty and shut up about the moral advice.