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June 16, 2009

Long opinions affirming very long federal child sex abuse sentences

Any concern that federal judges are too lenient when sentencing those who abuse children sexually should be allayed by some very long sentences affirmed in two long circuit court opinions today. 

From the Second Circuit, we get US v. Jass, No. 06-4899 (2d Cir. June 16, 2009) (available here), which affirms a 65-year sentence on a woman involved in the sexual abuse of two adolescent girl.  (Her boyfriend, who was the father of one of the victims, got a sentence of 115 years.)  From the Eleventh Circuit, we get US v. Sarras, No. 08-11757 (11th Cir. June 16, 2009) (available here), which affirms a 100-year sentence on a man involved in the sexual abuse of his step-daughter. 

Both cases cover interesting sentencing issues following a long discussion of various other legal issues and after reporting the sordid facts of the crimes.  The offenses in both cases are disturbing (the Jass facts are especially awful), so this is R-rated reading.  

Though there is little to savor in these ugly cases, I must note that the defendant in Sarras was subject to an obstruction-of-justice guideline enhancement based on evidence that he "had manipulated his penis in the defense photos" submitted to support the defense's failed trial argument that the defendant was not the person appearing in certain pornographic pictures.  In the future, lawyers advising federal defendants should be sure to warn clients that even improper penis manipulation can provide a basis for a sentence enhancement.

June 16, 2009 at 12:37 PM | Permalink


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If I read the Sarras case correctly, the defense expert had access to the seized photos. I was under the impression that it's nearly impossible for the defense to gain access to these types of photos.

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