Judge rethinks sentencing rapist to volunteer at rape crisis center

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by TANYA EISERER

Bio | Email | Follow: @tanyaeiserer

WFAA

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 8:50 AM

DALLAS — It was an unheard of probation condition — ordering an admitted rapist to do volunteer work at a rape crisis center.

Now the Dallas County district judge who ordered it is rapidly backpedaling.

“I’m sure she probably thought that it was his way of giving back perhaps. But it’s just not an appropriate place for him to do his community supervision,” said Bobbie Villareal, executive director of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center.

State District Judge Jeanine Howard, known in courthouse circles for her creative sentencing approaches, shocked and disturbed victim advocates when she imposed the condition that the defendant serve “250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center” last week.

The defendant, Sir Young, had pleaded guilty to the October 2011 rape of a 14-year-old girl in a practice room at Booker T. Washington High School, where they were both students.

“There’s just so many problems with that,” Villareal said. “First of all, we would worry about our client safety and well-being, the appropriateness of them having any kind of contact with survivors — even if it was a past victimization. Just having a criminal defendant in the office could be a triggering effect for many of our clients."

Villareal said she received a call from the probation department on Tuesday asking if Young could serve his volunteer work there. She politely told the probation officer "no."

“[We] had a really nice conversation with them, but told them — first of all — that we have a strict policy on our volunteers,” Villareal said. “They can have no criminal backgrounds whatsoever.”

Howard was not available for comment because Young’s case is still pending in her court, according to her court coordinator, Jerry Barker.

“The judge and the probation department are modifying his conditions,” Barker said. “They’re working on it right now. They’re going to come up with a different order for him to do his community service somewhere else.”

Villareal said she also wasn’t pleased with the rest of the sentence Howard handed down.

Howard sentenced Young, 20, to serve five years' deferred adjudication probation, meaning he won’t have a conviction if he successfully meets the requirements. Young had faced up to two decades in prison.

“It is a deterrent to all survivors when you see a very lenient sentence like this passed down,” Villareal said. “It sends a devastating message to survivors of sexual assault. That victim’s family definitely didn’t feel like there was justice for her and for other survivors of sexual assault.”

Young is currently in the Dallas County jail serving a 45-day jail sentence, another of the conditions that Howard imposed. He also must serve two days in jail every October 4 — the anniversary of the rape — while he’s on probation.

Probation officials said it has not yet been decided where Young will do his volunteer work, but it seems clear it likely won’t be around crime victims.

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com

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