PROVO, Utah — A Utah judge is under fire for praising a convicted rapist during sentencing — as the victim sat in the courtroom.
“The court has no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man — but great men sometimes do bad things,” Judge Thomas Low said.
Those were Judge Low’s fawning words for a convicted rapist he was about to sentence to jail. His comments have sparked outrage.
“As I listened to Judge Low, it was offensive to the victim what he said,” Ryan McBride said.
McBride prosecuted Keith Vallejo for molesting two relatives. He said the judge’s praise for Vallejo as one of his victims sat in court was concerning.
“The victims certainly did not feel like he was being accountable when Judge Low complimented him,” McBride said.
In addition to the praise, Judge Low appeared almost sad, pausing for nearly 30 seconds to gain his composure before finally and emotionally handing down the sentence.
“That being the case the court will…the court will impose one to 15 years in state prison on the second-degree felonies and five years to life on the first degree felony,” Judge Low said.
“It was appalling,” Mark Lawrence said.
Lawrence, with the civil rights group “Restore Our Humanity” said his group will file a judicial complaint against Low with the state.
“Blatant disregard for the victim who was sitting right there in the courtroom,” Lawrence said.
McBride and Lawrence said their fear is the judge’s comments may discourage other victims of sex crimes from speaking out.
“Someone else sitting in the room who may have been sexually abused could feel like, boy, if this is what it’s going to be like for me, I’m not going to come forward,” McBride said.
Judge Low has not commented publicly on his remarks.