Rapist of teen girl freed; complaint filed against judge

A man who admitted raping a teenage girl when the two attended high school together has been released from jail, and the judge whose critical statements about the victim touched off an international firestorm could face disciplinary action from a state judicial review board.
Sir Young, 20, was released from the Dallas County Jail on Saturday after serving 45 days as a condition of the five years’ deferred probation sentence he received in April from state District Judge Jeanine Howard. That sentence means Young won’t have a criminal conviction if he complies with the terms of his probation.
The lack of prison time for Young raised eyebrows, but Howard brought more criticism when she told The Dallas Morning News days after the trial that the teenage rape victim in the case “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be” and that Young wasn’t a “typical” sex offender.
Howard also said the girl had three sexual partners and had had a baby. The girl’s mother said then that none of the judge’s comments about her daughter — who was 14 at the time of the 2011 rape — were true.
Neither the victim or her mother are being named because The News typically does not identify sexual assault victims.
In response to Howard’s comments, the girl’s mother filed a complaint against the judge on May 22 with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, alleging that Howard spoke and acted improperly. The family’s attorney, Randy Johnston, said the complaint asks the commission to publicly say that the judge’s claims are not true: “that she said some things about a teenage victim of a sex crime that are false.”
“The whole thing was so inappropriate, to attack a rape victim. To say ‘she was not the victim she claimed to be,’” Johnston said. “It’s inappropriate for any victim, but even more so for a teenage rape victim.’”
Howard, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, recused herself after her comments became public, and another judge was appointed to oversee the case.
The rape occurred in a music practice room at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Young was 18 at the time. He will spend the anniversary of the assault — Oct. 4 — in jail for the five years he is on probation. He had faced up to 20 years in prison.
His attorney, Scottie Allen, declined to comment.
Originally, Howard excluded the typical restrictions for sex offenders, such as treatment and evaluation, from Young’s sentence. But the new jurist, state District Judge Carter Thompson, restored them in May.
A second sexual assault charge is pending against Young. That case does not have a trial date, and it is unclear if it will move forward.
Howard, a Democrat, is unopposed in her bid for a third term in November.
People can file a complaint with the judicial commission from information they know or obtained from another source, such as a news article. All complaints must be in writing and mailed to the commission in Austin, which will not confirm whether it is investigating or if a complaint was even received.
The commission also can initiate an investigation from information it obtains on its own. It receives about 1,100 complaints a year but only half meet the requirements to be investigated. The others are typically complaints about judges’ rulings, which are most often an issue for the appellate courts.
In examining the remaining cases, the commission determines whether it has jurisdiction and whether the allegation — if true — violated the Texas Judicial Code of Conduct. Then, an investigator or attorney will talk to witnesses, look at court records and talk with the judge.
If misconduct occurred, the commission can order additional education or issue a private or public sanction to the judge. In rare circumstances, usually when a criminal charge is involved, a judge can be suspended. A judge also can resign to avoid formal proceedings. But the commission cannot remove a judge from the bench. Only the Texas Supreme Court can do so.
And the results of an investigation are public only if the commission publicly reprimands a judge.
Legal ethics expert James Alfini, former dean and current adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, has said that Howard’s remarks should trigger an investigation by the commission.
Alfini said the commission may examine whether Howard’s remarks about the girl’s sexual history — whether true or untrue — were “nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity.” The state judicial code of conduct forbids judges from releasing such information, which could include medical data.