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Texas commission reprimands judge who questioned whether girl was rape victim in interview


DALLAS — A judge in Texas has been publicly reprimanded for questioning whether a 14-year-old girl was really a rape victim.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued the reprimand this month for Dallas County District Court Judge Jeanine Howard, The Dallas Morning News reported (http://bit.ly/1imHpLN ).

Howard presided over the case of Sir Young, who was convicted last year in the 2011 sexual assault of a classmate while at school. Howard sentenced Young, who was 18 at the time of the assault, to five years of probation and 45 days in jail. She also sentenced him to community service at a rape crisis center, which raised safety concerns by center staffers.

In a May 2014 interview with the newspaper, Howard said the girl "wasn't the victim she claimed to be."

The commission wrote that the judge's comment "undermined the public's confidence in her impartiality and independence by defending her rulings in the press, giving rise to a legitimate concern that she would not be fair or impartial in other sexual assault cases."

Another judge took over Young's case following Howard's comments and imposed stricter probation rules.

Howard could ask the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas to review the commission's decision to publicly reprimand her. The commission also ordered the judge to undergo four hours of education with a mentor.

Howard released a statement Thursday saying she hadn't decided how to proceed legally, but wanted "to assure the citizens of Dallas County that I will continue to work hard every day to promote the proper and fair administration of criminal justice in my court, just as I have done for the last eight and a half years."

Young, now 22, remained jailed without bond Friday after prosecutors last month filed a motion to revoke his probation. Young allegedly did not abide by requirements including reporting to probation officers, finding a job, attending sex offender treatment and paying his legal fees.

Online jail records do not list an attorney for Young who could comment on the case. Young could remain on probation or be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

This story has been corrected to show the panel is the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, not the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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