20-year-old Nolan Bruder of Crescent City, way up in Northern California, was sentenced last week in a sordid case involving his teenage sister and some very potent marijuana. Calling to mind the Brock Turner rape case at Stanford, which made national headlines because of what many saw as lenient sentencing for the college swimmer, Bruder was sentenced to the minimum of three years, with the judge suspending all but 240 days, meaning that he will spend less than a year in jail. As ABC affiliate KRCR reports, Del Norte County Judge William Follett said in court that he believed that the stigma associated with the conviction and the requirement of registering as a sex offender was punishment enough for Bruder.
Bruder was accused of, and confessed to, drugging and raping his 16-year-old sister, and both his booking date and his court appearance reportedly happened last Wednesday, May 17, but the incident occurred last summer. Bruder and his younger sister were doing "dabs," i.e. concentrated doses of marijuana that are heated and inhaled, and in a pre-sentence statement obtained by Heavy.com the sister said that Bruder got her so stoned she "no longer recognized him as her brother," and after his repeated requests to have sex, "eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t say ‘no’ anymore, like, I didn’t know how to. So I ended up having sex with him." The girl apparently reported the incident to a counselor at a boarding school she attends out of state.
Bruder pleaded guilty to the rape of an intoxicated person, and Judge Follett's rationale for the lenient sentencing included the fact that both parties were very young and very high, and that Bruder was not likely to be a repeat offender. He also noted the fact that the sister took her own pants off in the incident.
District Attorney Dale Trigg tells KRCR he "could not disagree more with" the sentence, and he had been pushing for the Probation Department's recommendation of six years in jail. "The message that this sends to our community is that sexual predators who get their juvenile siblings stoned enough can have sex with them without any meaningful consequence," Trigg says. "That is not the message I want to send to our community."
He added, "This defendant took advantage of a position of trust as this victim's big brother. He knew she didn't want to have sex with him. She told him that repeatedly. So he got her stoned on dabs he gave her until she didn't even recognize him in order get what he wanted."
Trigg and Deputy DA Annamarie Padilla invoked the Brock Turner case in court, and a new state law that disallows probation in rape cases. Padilla said of the judge's decision, via the Crescent City Times, "Under this interpretation of the law, a perpetrator at a college party who chooses to forcibly rape a conscious victim will go to prison. However, a different perpetrator at the same party who chooses to watch and wait for a victim to pass out from intoxication before sexually assaulting her may get probation."
In the wake of the decision, a petition has been launched to remove Judge Follett from the bench.