"She liked to dress provocatively"

U.K. judge slammed for lenient sentence of a child rapist.


Lynn Harris
June 27, 2007 10:55PM (UTC)

A judge in England has provoked outrage for sentencing a man convicted of rape to only two years in prison, the BBC reports. Keith Fenn, 24, is expected to serve only four months. Why the lenient sentence? Because, according to Judge Julian Hall, the victim had "dressed provocatively." She is, by the way, 10 years old.

As Australia's Herald Sun notes, Judge Hall called the case "exceptional" because the "young woman" was wearing a "frilly" bra and thong when she was assaulted by Fenn and a companion in a park and later in his home. The court also heard that (Herald Sun's paraphrase) the girl "regularly wore makeup, strappy tops, and jeans." (Jeans?)

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"It is quite clear she is a very disturbed child and a very needy child and she is a sexually precocious child. She liked to dress provocatively," the judge said. "Did she look like she was 10? Certainly not. She looked 16."

The issue of consent does appear to have been fuzzy in this case, as does (in the opinion pages, at least) the responsibility of the girl's guardians, a "local authority." (Then again, so does the the judge's, er, judgment in past cases. Judge Hall was, for example, criticized in February for setting free an admitted sex abuser, sentencing him only to pay his 6-year-old victim 250 pounds in compensation. "If it buys her a nice new bicycle," Judge Hall added, "that's the sort of thing that might cheer her up.")

Britain's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children bottomlined it thus: "There is no excuse for having sex with a 10-year-old, no matter how she dresses."

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith is currently deciding whether the sentence should be appealed as insufficient.


Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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