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Kansas AG proposes new bill after child called ‘aggressor’ in local sex abuse case

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants to change state law to prevent judges from easing sentences for adult sex offenders because a child victim is purportedly an “aggressor” in the crime.

The legislation proposed Monday was sparked by the decision of Leavenworth County Judge Michael Gibbens to give a 67-year-old man a more lenient sentence after saying the sex abuse victims, ages 13 and 14, were “more an aggressor than a participant.”

Raymond Soden used Facebook to contact the girls, offering money for nude photos and sexual favors.

Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens said at Soden’s sentencing that the girls were at fault for going to Soden’s house on their own. He also noted that they did not show up at the sentencing to give an impact statement.

Raymond Soden

“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” Gibbens said. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.”

The judge also said he was “pretty familiar” with the girls and wouldn’t rule out the defense attorney’s claim that they were trying to set Soden up to rob him.

Citing his advanced age, poor health and limited mental capacity, Judge Gibbens sentenced Soden to five years and 10 months in prison, roughly eight years less than the state guidelines.

State law now allows judges to reduce sentences below the guidelines by finding the victim contributed to the criminal conduct.

The proposed bill would prohibit that reasoning when the victim is younger than 14 years and the sex offender is an adult. It also would make it unavailable whenever human trafficking victims are involved regardless of their age.

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