A California judge has caused outrage after sentencing a convicted pedophile who had been found guilty of raping a 5-year-old girl to just 90 days of house arrest.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Ron Northup insisted that Lyle Burgess, a wealthy Californian businessman, must not spend any time in prison, and also ruled that Burgess should not be registered on the sex offender register despite being a convicted pedophile.
Attorney Kenneth Meleyco said Mr. Burgess’ wealth and friends in high places in California may have been factors in his sentencing.
“He’s obviously very wealthy and it’s just an example of how the wealthy people, time and time again, escape the penalty for what they did,” Meleyco said.
During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, both parents of the victim gave emotional testimony about what their now 7-year-old daughter has been going through, the impact on their family and their dissatisfaction with Mr. Burgess’ conviction. The parents’ names are not being used to protect the identity of the child victim.
“Our daughter has been harmed by this man continuously,” the victim’s mother said through tears, describing two incidents she says she witnessed between Burgess and her daughter at Mr. Burgess’ cabin in Calaveras County in the fall of 2016.
“I’m incredibly disgusted by his behavior and continuously disgusted by his lies,” she said before describing his sentence as “getting off so easy” and not being ordered to register as a sex offender.
“I want other kids to be protected by possible future abuse by this man,” she said.
The victim’s father, who has known Burgess for more than two decades, said: “I don’t have too many prized possessions in this world other than my family. (My daughter) will remember this the rest of her life. She sleeps on the floor outside our room.”
Judge Northup told the parents their statements do have an impact but “courts are somewhat limited” in ruling on a negotiated plea and insisted that he thought the 90-day house arrest ruling was “fair.“
However the parents could not disagree more and have recently filed a civil case against Mr. Burgess seeking unspecified damages for sexual abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Prosecutors said they strongly disagreed with the judge’s “outrageous” decision to spare Mr. Burgess from a prison sentence.
Stockton attorney Kenneth Meleyco, representing the family in that case, said “it is just appalling that somebody commits an offense like this and you have protections like 290 (failure to register as a sex offender) and Jessica’s Law and someone has the propensity to harm children and now nobody is warned.”