New Zealand’s criminal court decided that giving a woman who raped her one-year-old son, filmed it, and sent it to another person in exchange for $300 deserved more than eight months of home detention:
Krystal Harvey, who was 22 when she carried out the abuse, was originally sentenced in January in the Manukau District Court to eight months’ home detention, and 100 hours’ community work.
The case sparked outrage on social media, with many people saying Harvey should be behind bars, and others threatening to physically harm her. An online petition demanding she be sent to prison attracted more than 6500 signatures.
Following the threats, Judge Recordon converted her home detention sentence to a two-year jail term for her own protection.
But the Crown said the sentence was manifestly inadequate and wrong in principle, and appealed to the High Court.
Justice Wylie agreed and extended the sentence to three years and nine months.
The court decided to increase the woman’s sentence not because it was inherently the wrong sentence to begin with, but primarily because people sent threats against her.
I do not agree with threatening people, however, I do understand the outrage that would prompt such a response. It is not often that someone who rapes a toddler and sells the video of it walks away with home detention.
The increased sentence is a good thing, yet still inadequate considering that the unlawful sexual connection charge (New Zealand law does not allow women to be charged with rape) carries a maximum 20-year sentence and the objectionable recording charge a maximum of 10 years.
The the problem with the light sentence is that this woman will not serve the full sentence. New Zealand offers early release once one third of the sentence is served. A longer sentence, say a 10-year sentence, would keep her in jail for at least three years. The three years and nine months sentence will have her out 15 months.
It seems, however, that even the judge who thought the original sentence was too light still had a soft spot for this woman:
Justice Wylie said this was a breach of trust for money and because it was filmed there could be future psychological harm.
He gave Harvey a small discount for her clean record and her young age, citing evidence from her foster mother and a social worker that Harvey was far younger in maturity than her years.
Justice Wylie also took time off Harvey’s sentence for remorse and gave the full 25 percent discount available for her early guilty pleas, reaching an end sentence of three years and nine months.
He said he hoped Harvey could take part in a group-based rehabilitation programme while inside prison.
I wonder if Justice Wylie is as considerate with young men who commit sex offenses who had tough lives and lacked the proper maturity for their age.