A judge in the US state of Utah has faced backlash for praising a rapist when sentencing him to jail for sexually abusing two women.
Judge Thomas Low became emotional when sentencing ex-Mormon bishop Keith Robert Vellejo, who had been convicted of 10 counts of forcible sexual abuse and one count of object rape.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Low said, “The court has no doubt that Mr Vallejo is an extraordinary, good man. But great men… sometimes do bad things."
In February, a jury found Vallejo guilty of inappropriately touching two women multiple times at his home in 2013 and 2014. One of his alleged victims was Julia Kirby, Low’s 19-year-old sister-in-law, and the other was a relative.
After the sentencing, Kirby told the Tribune that she was shocked by the judge’s praise of her abuser and plans to file a judicial complaint against him.
Vallejo was sentenced to one-to-15 years in prison for each of the sexual abuse charges, and a five-year-to-life term for the object rape charge.
Kirby said she hoped the judge would order consecutive sentences because there were two victims.
In the sentencing, the judge also addressed Kirby directly and told her she was “a survivor.” That would have been little comfort to her and the other victim who had to recount their horrific experience in a courtroom, only for the judge to praise their attacker in their presence.