Posted Sep 10, 2012 10:30 am CDT
An Arizona judge has apologized for her courtroom advice on the perils of visiting bars, given to a woman who was groped by an off-duty police officer.
Judge Jacqueline Hatch of Coconino County sentenced the officer, Robb Gary Evans, to probation after jurors found him guilty of sexual abuse, the Arizona Daily Sun reports. Prosecutors had alleged Evans drank eight beers, used his badge in an effort to gain free admission to a Flagstaff bar and, once inside, reached up the victim’s skirt and groped her, according to a prior Arizona Daily Sun story. Evans knew the woman through mutual friends. He was fired after the conviction.
In a hearing on Wednesday, Hatch told the victim that she was not to blame, but women need to be vigilant, the stories say. According to the reports, Hatch told the victim, “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.”
Hatch said that even going to the grocery store after 10 p.m. can be dangerous for women, according to the Sun account. Hatch recalled what her mother used to say: “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
The victim, who is not identified in the stories, told the Daily Sun last week that Hatch should apologize. “I’m still kind of in shock that she said that to me,” the victim told the newspaper. “Coming from a woman, I would expect her to be a little bit more realistic about women being strong and independent and the fact that there’s nothing wrong with that.”
The judge responded with a statement of apology, the Arizona Daily Sun reported in a later story. Hatch said it is her responsibility to make sure victims and defendants are treated fairly and in a respectful manner, and “victims should not be blamed for coming forward to report crimes.”
“I apologize to the victim for any additional anguish my comments may have caused,” the judge wrote. “It was never my intention to make a situation worse for any victim. I have learned an important lesson and will apply what I have learned to future cases, to ensure that the rights and views of all victims are heard and respected.”