A Leavenworth County judge has drawn criticism for comments he made during a sentencing hearing in December.

A Leavenworth County judge has drawn criticism for comments he made during a sentencing hearing in December.

District Judge Michael Gibbens said he considered an underage girl who was identified as a victim as an aggressor in the case of a man who was being sentenced for a charge of electronic solicitation, according to a transcript of the hearing.

The judge sentenced Raymond E. Soden to 70 months, or five years and 10 months, in prison on Dec. 4.

Soden, 67, had pleaded no contest to the electronic solicitation charge Aug. 21, 2018. The crime had occurred earlier that year and involved communication Soden reportedly had with a 13-year-old girl through Facebook Messenger, according to a news release County Attorney Todd Thompson issued at the time of the sentencing.

The Kansas City Star reported about comments Gibbens made during the hearing in a story that was posted on the news agency’s website on Sunday.

In sentencing Soden to 70 months, Gibbens granted a departure from what was considered the standard sentence under the state’s sentencing guidelines.

According to the transcript of the Dec. 4 sentencing hearing, the standard sentence would have been 176 months. But Deputy County Attorney Joan Lowdon said prosecutors had agreed not to recommend more than the mitigated sentence of 166 months, or 13 years and 10 months, as part of plea negotiations.

Soden’s attorney, Clinton Lee, filed a motion seeking a sentencing departure to probation or a prison sentence less than what was called for under the sentencing guidelines.

Lee cited several reasons in a written motion for the departure including an argument that the victim was an aggressor or participant in criminal conduct associated with the crime for which Soden had been convicted.

Gibbens found that underage girls associated with the case were aggressors.

“I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct,” Gibbens said, according to a transcript of the Dec. 4 hearing. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell. I also find that at some point during this conduct, they decided to involve others in a robbery of Mr. Soden because it became apparent to them they could get money easier that way.”

Lee had alleged in his motion that underage girls involved in the case had acted in concert with boyfriends to attempt to rob Soden.

During the Dec. 4 hearing, Lowdon asked the judge to clarify if he was finding that the victim of the electronic solicitation charge was an aggressor.

“Yes,” Gibbens said, according to the transcript. “I think that a 13-year-old who offers what she offered for money is certainly an aggressor, particularly since she’s the one that had to travel to Mr. Soden.”

The Times left a phone message with an administrative assistant for Gibbens on Monday afternoon in an effort to seek comment from the judge. The court administrator attempted to return the call after hours.

Soden’s earliest possible release date from prison is March 3, 2023, according to a website for the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR