New Jersey judge who cited alleged rapist’s ‘good family’ in court ruling steps down

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

A New Jersey judge facing intense criticism for ruling that a teenage boy accused of rape should not face adult charges in part because he "came from a good family" has agreed to step down, according to a State Supreme Court order issued Wednesday.

Superior Court Judge James G. Troiano, a retired judge who was taking cases on an on-call basis, told the Supreme Court that he did not want to continue serving and would leave the bench effective immediately, according to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner's order.

Troiano has drawn sharp criticism in recent weeks over his decision to bar the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office from bringing adult charges against a boy accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated girl at a party in 2017.

He allegedly sexually assaulted a girl: A judge went easy on him: He 'comes from a good family'

In his ruling, Troiano appeared to give deference to the accused, citing his status as an Eagle Scout and the potentially "devastating effect" adult charges would have on his life. An appellate court last month reversed his decision and rebuked Troiano for his remarks.

“[T]his young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well,” Troiano said of the accused, according to the appellate court decision. “He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college."

The decision drew widespread attention when it came to light and a number of lawmakers and activists demanded Troiano's resignation.

Last Thursday, about 50 people gathered outside the Monmouth County Courthouse to demand the resignations of Troiano and another Superior Court judge also under fire for a decision in a sexual assault case.

Protesters said Troiano's remarks underscored why so few sexual assault victims report the assault to authorities and the seemingly preferable treatment within the criminal justice system to those accused of sexual assault.

Activists said Troiano perpetuated "rape culture" by suggesting that a teenage boy deserved leniency because of his social and academic standing.

Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that he was "gratified" that Judge Troiano will no longer sit on the bench." Murphy had previously stopped short of calling for the judge's resignation, but said his conduct should be investigated.

Troiano's decision was announced just minutes before the Supreme Court said it would begin removal proceedings against Superior Court Judge John F. Russo over his "close your legs" remarks to an alleged rape victim.

"I am pleased with the swift action taken by the Courts to uphold the reputation of our judiciary and ensure that all who seek justice are treated with dignity and respect," Murphy said in a statement.

Prosecutors allege that the 16-year-old boy, identified only as "G.M.C." sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in a basement during a pajama-themed party in Monmouth County in 2017. The girl was visibly intoxicated and slurring her words at the time, according to prosecutors.

The defendant allegedly recorded the assault on his cell phone and later circulated it among friends, including sending a text message that read "(w)hen your first time having sex was rape," according to the appellate decision.

Prosecutors had sought to bring a slew of adult charges including first-degree aggravated sexual assault against the boy, but Troiano ruled the case couldn't be waived up to adult court.