When it comes to excusing child rape, the United Kingdom never disappoints. Of all the reasons one could think of to not imprison someone, deafness does not make the top of the list. Yet a UK judge felt that two sisters who habitually raped a boy for 14 years should not face jail time because they cannot hear:
Two sisters who sexually abused a boy over a 14-year period have been spared jail because they are both deaf and would experience ‘complete isolation’ in prison.
Julie Fellows, 30, and her sister Jennifer, 32, of Kington, Herefordshire, began molesting the victim when he was just six and then again when he was a teenager. […]
Julie was found guilty following a trial of indecently assaulting a boy aged six to nine between October 2000 and April 2004 and sexual activity with a boy aged between 13 and 17 by between October 2008 and October 2010.
Jennifer admitted gross indecency with a child under 16 between October 2000 and April 2004 and inciting a male child aged between 13 and 17 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity between October 2008 and October 2010.
That sounds rather serious, however, Judge Robert Juckes did not agree. He decided to spare the sisters any jail time because the sisters’ disabilities would put them in “a state of complete isolation” in prison. Juckes made the decision despite sentencing guidelines recommending one year in jail for Jennifer and six years in prison for Julie.
Juckes explained his decision:
‘This is a depressing and disturbing case.
‘You Jennifer were ten years older than the victim and the abuse was limited to masturbating in front of him and getting him to masturbate in front of you.
‘Later when he got to the age of 14 and you were 24 or 25 you persuaded him further and again to masturbate in front of you and you did that by referring back to what he had been prepared to do at the age of six.
‘You pleaded guilty on the basis that there was no touching of either of you by the other.
‘In your case Julie the abuse began when he was six and you were about 14 but progressed to the point where you fellated him.
‘When he was over the age of 16, probably 15 rather than 15, as a visitor in your house it led to full sexual intercourse on one occasion.
Again, that sounds very serious. It sounds like these two sisters systematically preyed on a boy, grooming him for years, exploiting his trust and love for them in order to use him for sex. It also appears that their attraction includes prepubescent children, suggesting two sisters may fit the description of a pedophile.
The proper response to this type of case should involve prison time considering that these women abused the boy for 14 years. Juckes, however, disagreed:
‘The conclusion I’ve come to is that a custodial sentence in your case would be wholly inappropriate and the reasons are the disability you have, the fact you’re about to give birth and the fact that you have lost a child recently.
So apparently deafness excuses child rape. Pregnancy excuses child rape. Miscarriage excuses child rape.
Never mind that the sisters’ disability did not prevent them from manipulating and abusing the victim for a decade and a half. Never mind that the rape and abuse occurred prior to any pregnancy or miscarriage. The facts of when the abuse happened do not matter. These two suffer from deafness and one will give birth, therefore they should not go to prison.
‘I do not in any way overlook the effect of this on the victim.
Nonsense. This completely overlooks the effect of the abuse and the sentencing on the victim. Let us look at they did to him:
The sister began abusing the boy when he was six years old. They would walk him home from school and take him into local gas stations and make him masturbate or make him watch them masturbate. According to the prosecutor, this went on so long the boy thought it was normal and that the sisters loved him. This prolonged abuse created a situation that made it rather easy for Julie to later rape the boy:
Julie later moved in with her fiance Adam and the victim was sitting on the sofa with Julie watching TV while Adam was asleep.
She started a conversation with him about what used to happen and she put his hand down her trousers.
She told him he needed to lose his virginity and said: ‘Who would you rather lose it to?’
She got him to get onto his knees and they had intercourse for a short period of time.
The impact on the victim ruined him. He did not realize anything was wrong until he spoke with some friends. As a result of the abuse, the victim faced emotional trauma and problems in his relationships. He turned to alcohol and drugs to cope.
With all that in mind, Judge Juckes gave these women a pass because:
‘Both of you have led constructive lives.
‘The disability you both have is that you suffer from profound deafness and it’s a degenerative condition that’s getting worse in both of your cases.
‘Neither of you can lip read but you have both developed high skills in sign language and that has been a remarkable thing to witness in court.
‘These are not facilities I presume that are available in prison.
‘For the length of time you would be there your ability to communicate would be extremely limited.
‘You would be living in a state of complete isolation.’
They get a pass because they led “constructive lives” as they abused a child for almost two decades. They get a pass because their condition will get worse over time. They get a pass because they cannot read lips, but can sign . They get a pass because no one in jail or prison may know sign language.
They get to walk out of court after admitting to grooming and sexually abusing a child starting from when he was six years old because they may not be able to talk to other people while imprisoned.
Due to this, Juckes decided to issue a two-year prison sentence for Julie, suspended for two years, and a one-year jail sentence for Jennifer, suspended for one year. He placed them under a 12-month supervision, ordered 30 sessions of sex offender treatment, and placed them under a five-year restraining order preventing contact with the victim. They otherwise face no penalty, including Jennifer maintaining custody of her three-year-old son.
As if that were not bad enough, Juckes previously stated, after granting the sisters bail:
‘This is not a straightforward case.
‘You should expect very significant prison sentences.’
If by “significant” he meant “inexplicable”, that would be an accurate statement.
What baffles me is that these women’s “profound deafness” did not stop them from communicating with or abusing the boy. It is possible the boy is also deaf. I do not recall any article stating his condition, but it would explain how he knew the sisters. It also demonstrate that these women’s condition did not impede their ability to do whatever they wanted. If the boy is not deaf, it would demonstrate that these women are more than capable of communicating with people who may not know sign language.
Either way, their deafness is no excuse to absolve them of child rape. Perhaps the most infuriating element is that they are clearly predatory. They stopped abusing the boy for a period of time, and then started again. Why reward them with no jail time?