A Pennsylvania judge suggested an 18-year-old be fined $1 for each time he inappropriately touched a teen girl.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week that Common Pleas Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus ordered the defendant to 20 hours of community service and 90 days probation. When the 18-year-old’s attorney challenged the original $300 fine because of his client’s inability to pay, it was then that Judge Nauhaus recommended imposing a symbolic $3 fine.
Judge Nauhaus then asked the victim how many times the man touched her, to which she responded: “about six times, maybe.” He then upped the defendant’s fine to $6, a decision that outraged Assistant District Attorney Jeff Tisak.
“It is just highly inappropriate to tell a young girl that inappropriate touching is worth a dollar a time,” Tisak said.
The judge then pointed out that the man had no means to pay and asked Tisak how much he should be fined. Repeating his original comment, Tisak pointed out that the fine itself isn’t the issue and that he doesn’t care “if the fine is zero dollars” before he was cut off.
“All right. It’s zero dollars. Ninety days. No contact. Twenty hours of community service,” Judge Nauhaus responded.
“I feel badly for the victim. I really do. But there really isn’t much I can do.”
The prosecutor said the case involved sexual touching that went on when the accused and victim were in high and middle school, respectively. The defendant is involved in the juvenile dependency system and was being represented by a child advocate. The now-18-year-old’s name is being withheld because he was a juvenile when the crimes occurred.
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office announced their plans to report the senior judge following his controversial conduct.
Judge Nauhaus later told the Post-Gazette that he wasn’t trying to be insensitive to the victim and was asking what an appropriate penalty would be.
“I have to find some way of punishing. It was obvious he had done something wrong. They [prosecutors] came before me with no suggestion,” he said. “It’s frustrating. I didn’t mean to mock. I didn’t mean to denigrate. I just wanted somebody to give me an answer. That’s their job.”
[Featured Image: Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas]