A Leavenworth County judge who drew criticism for comments he made during a 2018 sentencing hearing may retire next year.

A Leavenworth County judge who drew criticism for comments he made during a 2018 sentencing hearing may retire next year.

District Judge Michael Gibbens said Monday that he is thinking about retirement.

“I may be retiring this spring,” Gibbens said.

He made the comment in court during a hearing.

Gibbens previously drew criticism when he said he considered an underage girl an aggressor in the case of a man who was being sentenced for a charge of electronic solicitation. The girl had been identified as a victim in the case.

Gibbens sentenced Raymond E. Soden to five years and 10 months in prison on Dec. 4, 2018.

Soden 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.

In sentencing Soden to five years and seven 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, 2018, 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, 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 found that underage girls associated with the case were aggressors, and this was cited among the factors for the sentencing departure.

“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, 2018, 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.”

State law at the time allowed judges to reduce the length of prison sentences by finding victims of certain crimes contributed to the criminal conduct by being an aggressor.

Earlier this year, state legislators changed the law to eliminate this as a mitigating factor in cases of sexually violent crimes or electronic solicitation involving victims who are younger than 14 and offenders who are adults.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR