The Kansas attorney general is requesting a change in state law that would prevent judges from lowering prison sentences for adult sex offenders because child victims are purported to be aggressors who contributed to the crimes.

The Kansas attorney general is requesting a change in state law that would prevent judges from lowering prison sentences for adult sex offenders because child victims are purported to be aggressors who contributed to the crimes.

A news release from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office indicated the request for the change in law was motivated by a decision made by Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens.

Gibbens recently has come under fire for comments he made during the Dec. 4 sentencing of Raymond Soden.

Soden, 67, pleaded no contest to a charge of electronic solicitation stemming from communication he reportedly had with a 13-year-old girl.

Gibbens sentenced Soden to five years and 10 months in prison, which was a departure from what was considered the standard sentence under state sentencing guidelines.

Soden’s attorney, Clinton Lee, cited several reasons in a written motion for a sentencing departure including an argument that the victim was an aggressor or participant in criminal conduct associated with the crime for which Soden was convicted.

Gibbens agreed that the victim in the case was an aggressor, and this was cited among the factors for the sentencing departure.

Current law allows judges to reduce the length of prison sentences by finding the victim of certain crimes contributed to the criminal conduct by being an “aggressor.” A proposed bill would make that reason for a downward departure unavailable in sex crimes when the victim is younger than 14 years old and the offender is an adult. It also would make departure unavailable when human trafficking victims are involved regardless of their age.

“No matter the child’s behavior, child victims are not responsible for the criminal conduct of adults who commit sex crimes against them,” Schmidt said Monday in a news release. “In my view, the law should reflect that simple principle.”

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said he disagreed with the reduced sentence imposed by Gibbens. But the county attorney did not appeal the decision because he concluded the judge had acted within the discretion allowed by current law. Thompson said he supports the proposed new legislation.

“We are grateful to Attorney General Schmidt in recognizing this flaw in the law and working with us to immediately take action to fix it,” Thompson said in a news release. “When appealing a case we must remove the emotional component and focus solely on the legal argument. In this case we do not have the legal argument.”

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR