He might not like the food

So a guy rapes his 3-year-old daughter, is tried and convicted several years later, and…

gets no jail time.

Robert Richards IV was in 2009 convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter, seven years after she, then five, told relatives that she didn’t want “my daddy touching me anymore.” In an alarming twist, the judge who sentenced the heir to the du Pont fortune let him off with no jail time, arguing that six-foot-four Richards “will not fare well” in prison.

Instead of sentencing him to prison for raping a toddler, Judge Jan Jurden ruled that Richards would benefit from treatment. Critics have since noted that such treatment is usually only offered to drug addicts or those in possession of child pornography, not convicted rapists. The details of the case became public this month when Richards’s ex-wife sued him for damages related to the abuse of their daughter.

Well it’s like this. If you’ve always been very rich, then your skin gets so delicate that you can’t tolerate life in prison. Other people can, of course, people who have not always been very rich, but that’s their problem. You, having always been very rich, cannot. The judge simply took this into account.

A number of sources, including the chief prosecutor in the Delaware county where the case was tried, said they found the judge’s justification for waiving jail time—that Richards wouldn’t do well in prison—highly unusual. One defense lawyer gave the following assessment to The News Journal: “Who thrives in jail?”

“It’s an extremely rare circumstance that prison serves the inmate well,” Delaware public defender Brendan O’Neill told The News Journal. He surmised that the Richards case would make Americans wonder “how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system.”.

Prison may well be a terrible idea overall. That however is not a reason for keeping very rich people out of it while not keeping everyone else out of it.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    In light of this and the very wise and democratic decision recently issued by the Supreme Court of Kochlandia:

    To paraphrase Orwell – All animals are created equal. Rich animals are more equal than others.

  2. Al Dente says

    moarscienceplz @1

    Actually the quote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” refers to the poorer majority animals being more equal. The richer ones were less equal.

  3. Kevin Kehres says

    @2: Really?

    I thought the quote was by the pigs, who by this time had taken control of the farm and were reaping the rewards of being the oligarchs.

    I’ll have to go back and re-read Orwell…but I’m pretty sure that the quote (in the context of the book) was meant to justify unequal/better treatment by the ruling class at the expense of everyone else.

  4. R Johnston says

    RJW @4: nope. The sentence came down 5 years ago. The matter is in the public eye now because of an associated civil suit.

  5. Ed says

    WTF?!! Put this guy in prison!

    If there are legitimate health concerns or an unusually high risk to his safety (beyond what is normal for child rapists) put him in isolation or take other reasonable measures. Not only is this level of leniency unjust, it presents a current danger to any number of children in the area.

  6. smrnda says

    Nobody fares well in prison, it’s an absolutely nonsense objection, but it gives you an idea of how plenty of people think; *commoners* can be treated like disposable garbage but rich people deserve special treatment. It isn’t like plenty of people haven’t been sent to jail for far less, with zero concern for how they would fare.

  7. Francisco Bacopa says

    I know that in Texas defendants usually have the option of choosing jury sentencing or judge sentencing. Did the defendant in this case have that choice? If so, it worked well because I am sure a jury would not have cared how he fared in prison.

    Of course, I don’t think any prisoner should have to face a high risk of rape or serious abuse in prison. I don’t see how that makes anything better. But I am also one of those crazy folk who wants our prison population cut by a third in ten years.

  8. RJW says

    @5 R Johnston,

    Thanks. I thought it was a recent decision, it’s still morally repugnant.

  9. kevinalexander says

    This is Saudi Arabia America. This man raped had consensual sex with his daughter property. Then she turned five and regretted her sluttish decision. It’s not like he raped some other mans property. That would be immoral.

  10. Amy Clare says

    Convict: “But judge, show some leniency, I wouldn’t fare well in prison.”
    Judge: “Tough, you should’ve thought about that before you raped a 3 year old girl.”

    Convict: “But judge, show some leniency, I wouldn’t fare well in prison. Did I mention my family is rich and powerful?”
    Judge: “I completely see where you’re coming from. See you down the golf club.”

    Justice in action.

  11. latsot says

    @2 and @3. I’ve always taken it to mean that the non-pigs are the more equal ones. It’s satire about the false notion of equality being a tool to subjugate people (hmm…where have we heard that recently?) All the other animals are equal because they have to do all the work and get none of the benefits. The pigs are less equal because they sit around smoking cigars and selling the other animals out.

    Being equal – as the pigs describe it – means lack of autonomy, privilege and freedom. The pigs’ being less equal means that they get to have those things.

    But it’s been about 30 years since I read it, so I could be wrong. In fact, when we read that book at school, our teacher told us that it was the pigs who were more equal. I got marked very harshly on the test because I disagreed. So I could certainly be wrong. But I think the pigs-are-less-equal version fits better with the text.

    More importantly, I saw this story (about the rich guy, not Animal Farm) a couple of days ago and my first reaction was that obviously this sort of thing couldn’t possibly happen in the UK….. And then I remembered that I’m stupidly wrong about that and it happens all the time.

    Judges, barristers and even lawyers tend to be richer than average, of course. In the UK the former two tend to be richer than average before they start. This can’t *possibly* have anything to do with unwarranted sympathy for rich people in the judicial system.

  12. kevinalexander says

    Judge: “I completely see where you’re coming from. See you down the golf club.”

    You forgot
    “Did I mention that I’m running for re-election? We’ll discuss the bribe campaign contribution over drinks at the club”

  13. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    I thought the rich got that way by being so hard working and so much better than us sorry poors? It’s unAmerican to question the moral superiority of the wealthy. When they rape toddlers, they’re still better than the rest of us and surely don’t belong in nasty prisons with us filthy common folks. Right?

    …and if the poor want a reliable social safety net, well that just shows how selfish and lazy we are. No mercy for us. Mercy belongs to our betters, the job creators. When they kill, main, rape, steal and destroy the environment and the economy, they deserve a break. We poor, however. We made our beds (if we can afford them) and we’ll damn well lie in them. Remember, it’s only class warfare when poor people want to tax the obscenely wealthy.


  14. kevinalexander says

    Seriously, there’s a lesson in evolutionary psychology here. There has to have evolved a mechanism for deference to power or there can be no cohesive society.
    Robert Sapolsky studying baboons points out that, although they seem to have a lot of human like behaviours, they are very different than humans in one critical aspect–they can’t co-operate. The biggest and strongest ape can beat others up and he can make others get out of his way so he can take the best of everything but he can’t get them to do things for him.
    Humans don’t just defer to the most powerful, they will actively worship them and sacrifice to help them as though money equaled morality.
    Note the phenomenon of disgust for small parasites but admiration for giant ones.

  15. geekgirlsrule says

    @latsot The quote “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” is in reference to the pigs being the new masters, and therefor “more equal” than the rest of the animals. This is also evidenced by the chant changing over time from “Four legs good, two legs bad” to “Four legs good, two legs better,” by the end of the book when the pigs have taken to walking on their hind legs, and in the final scene of the book are indistinguisable from the human farmers they socialize with.

  16. RJW says


    Another Orwellian interpretation is that ‘equal’ (or indeed any word) can acquire any meaning that the ruling oligarchy chooses.

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