May 5th, 2014
01:11 PM ET

Judge Under Fire For Rape Sentence, Implying Victim Was Promiscuous

She could have sentenced him to 20 years in prison after he admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl in her high school.

Instead, a Texas judge gave the defendant a 45-day sentence and probation after implying that the victim was promiscuous.

Judge Jeanine Howard told The Dallas Morning News that she based the sentence, in part, on medical records indicating that the girl had had three sexual partners and had given birth.

She told the newspaper that the victim "wasn't the victim she claimed to be" and said the defendant, 20-year-old Sir Young, "is not your typical sex offender."

Critics fear the decision could discourage other victims from reporting rapes.

"We're certainly concerned about the message that's being sent to victims of sexual assault," said Andrea Moseley, chief prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.

"We expect that our victims will be protected and that their reputations will be protected and that they will feel safe in coming forward and reporting these crimes."

But it wasn't just the sentence that drew criticism; it was the type of community service Young was also sentenced to.

Young, who was a schoolmate of the victim's when the rape occurred in 2011, was ordered to serve 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center. The center later said he was not welcome there.

"Just having a criminal defendant in the office could be a triggeringaffect for many of our clients," Bobbie Villareal, director of the Dallas Rape Crisis Center, told CNN affiliate WFAA. "It's just not appropriate."

Young's defense attorney, Scottie Allen, told CNN's "New Day" on Monday that he felt the sentence was "fair and appropriate" given the circumstances, and he agreed with Howard that his client wasn't a normal sex offender.

"What we have here is an 18-year-old high school student who was very talented, very gifted," Allen said, adding that Young had scholarship offers from a "couple of universities."

Allen further claimed that the victim had agreed to have sex with Young, just not on campus, and "upon making this bad judgment, he admitted that he proceeded over her objections to stop, and he admitted that to the police."

"We don't think that he qualifies as your typical sex offender. This is not somebody who has preyed on some young kids or unsuspecting people."

HLN reached out to the judge for comment, but she has recused herself from the case.

A new judge will oversee the case moving forward, including a motion filed by prosecutors to add more restrictive requirements to Young's probation.

The victim told WFAA she was devastated by the sentencing.

"I was shocked that a judge, someone that I trusted with this case, would go behind my back, would go and find records and make these allegations that she knows nothing about," she said.

Meanwhile, Young is serving his 45-day jail sentence. If he compiles with the terms of his probation, he won't have a conviction on his record.



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May 5th, 2014
09:53 AM ET
May 5th, 2014
05:52 AM ET

9 Performers Injured in Circus Accident

Nine performers were injured Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island, said Steve Payne, spokesman for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Eight performers fell when the hair-hang apparatus – which holds performers by their hair – failed, Payne said. Another performer was injured on the ground, he added.

Officials said the performers fell from between 25 to 35 feet and many of those injured suffered broken bones, and no spectators were hurt.


Five Things to Know for Your New Day – Monday, May 5, 2014
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers do the "human chandelier."
May 5th, 2014
04:55 AM ET

Five Things to Know for Your New Day – Monday, May 5, 2014

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 enters a "more difficult" phase. The Oscar Pistorius murder trial resumes in South Africa. And Shelly Sterling backs the NBA's lifetime ban of her estranged husband for making racist comments.

It's Monday, and here are the 5 things to know for your "New Day."


Let's try this: The results have been fruitless so far in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. More than 300 search flights. Over 3,000 hours in the air. A staggering 4 million square kilometers of ocean. And nothing to show for it. Today, search officials announced that a new, "more difficult" phase was beginning. Australia estimates the cost at about $60 million. Even at that price tag, nothing is guaranteed.


Human chandelier: It sounds beautiful and exquisite, but suddenly turned horrifying as it crashed to the ground yesterday at a performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence, Rhode Island. Eight performers hanging by their hair fell when the apparatus holding them about 30 feet in the air failed, the circus said. Another performer was injured on the ground.


Back in court: It's been a couple of weeks, but the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius resumed in South Africa today. The 27-year-old admits that he shot and killed his cover model girlfriend, but he denies that he murdered her, saying he thought she was an intruder in his house in the middle of the night. The prosecution aims to prove Pistorius intentionally shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp last year. The defense team hopes to cast doubt on that claim.



New twist: Perhaps it's not surprising, but Shelly Sterling supports the tough stance the NBA took against her estranged husband after he made racist comments in a phone call recorded by his mistress. The league banned Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million. Shelly Sterling said in a statement that the team and the league need to work together to find new leadership. There was no mention of Commissioner Adam Silver's plan to force Donald Sterling to sell the team.


Struggling: Ukraine is losing battle after battle to maintain order in the country's east. Pro-Russian sympathizers and militants continue to overrun government positions. And rare government gains are short-lived. It raises questions about the ability of the army and police to confront the uprisings that Kiev says are backed by Moscow. Russian officials say the Kremlin is not involved.

Those are your five biggies for the day. Here are a couple of others that are brewing and have the Internet buzzing.

- 100 days of dance: He doesn’t have moves like Jagger or Astaire for that matter but watch this guy bust a move to the same song day after day after day after …

- Synchronicity: This what you get when you let fifth-grade boys put together their own talent show skit. They clearly have a dry sense of humor.

- Dogs down under: Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy” is just about everywhere these days. Now it’s gone to the dogs and a cat in Australia.

- Pachyderm blues: Get down with your elephant self.

- Minor difference: Attention, please. Give a listen to this haunting version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Chase Holfelder.

There you go. All you need to know to get an early start to your morning.
Be sure to tune in to "New Day," from 6 to 9 a.m. ET, join us at and go and have a GREAT NEW DAY!

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