Sean Hogg convicted of raping girl, 13, but Scottish judge says prison not ‘appropriate’
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A Scottish man who was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl in a park when he was 17 will not face jail after a judge on Monday sentenced him to community service, saying jail time was not ” suitable’ for someone who was that age when the crimes were committed.
Sean Hogg, 21, was convicted of assaulting a young girl at Dalkeith Country Park in Midlothian, Scotland, near Edinburgh, several times between March and June 2018. Court documents show Hogg, from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, had threatened the girl when she was 17, grabbed her by the wrists and forced her to perform sexual acts, according to the BBC.
But Judge Lord Lake told the High Court in Glasgow that while rape was “one of the most serious crimes”, Hogg’s age at the time of the crimes played into the decision not to jail him. After noting that adults over 25 would normally be sentenced to four to five years in prison, Lake ordered Hogg to complete 270 hours of unpaid community service.
“For the level of seriousness, I have to take into account your responsibility and take into account your age as a factor,” Judge Hogg told the BBC, the BBC reported.
When Lake told Hogg what the prison sentence would be for adults over 25, the judge added, “I don’t think it’s appropriate and I don’t intend to send you to prison.” Lake referred to Scotland’s sentencing guidelines, adopted last year, for people under 25. The guidelines favor rehabilitation over punishment.
“You are a first offender with no previous prison history – you are 21 and you were 17 at the time,” Lake said, according to the Telegraph newspaper. “Prison does not lead me to believe that it will contribute to your rehabilitation.”
The judge’s sentence of community service instead of prison has led to backlash from the Scottish Conservative Party and critics who described the “disturbingly lenient” sentence as a “total insult” to the girl who was raped.
“This is an extremely serious case and we are shocked that the perpetrator has not received a prison sentence,” Sandy Brindley, CEO of Rape Crisis Scotland, said in a statement to LBC radio station. “Given the gravity of this crime and the fact that it was tried in the Supreme Court, this sentence seems to us to be disturbingly lenient.”
A spokesman for Scotland’s Crown Office, the country’s public prosecution service, declined to comment to The Washington Post. In a statement to local media, the office said: “As with all cases, the Crown will consider the sentence and consider whether it may be overly lenient.”
A spokesman for law firm Optimum Advocates and Donald Findlay KC, the lawyer representing Hogg, told The Post they were not authorized to comment on the case. Findlay told the court on Monday that the firm plans to appeal Hogg’s conviction.
In Britain, most people accused of rape walk free. In the year ending March 2020, more than 55,000 rapes were reported to the police. However, in the same period, 2,102 rape prosecutions resulted in only 1,439 convictions. In 2021, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that he regretted the “trauma” experienced by rape victims as a result of the “inadequacy” of the criminal justice system.
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In January 2022, the Scottish Sentencing Council announced new guidelines aimed at “reducing repeat offending among young people and thereby helping to increase public safety”.
“Reflecting compelling scientific evidence on the development of cognitive maturity, the guideline states that a young person will generally have a lower level of maturity and a greater capacity for change and rehabilitation than an older person,” the council said in a press release. . “For this reason, he says rehabilitation should be a primary consideration when sentencing a young person.”
Hogg, who was recently found guilty by a jury, wept during his sentencing in Glasgow on Monday. While Lake noted that the victim’s age and infirmities were “aggravating factors” in the case, the judge said he also had an obligation to consider Hogg’s age at the time of the rapes.
As well as community service, Hogg was also placed under supervision and placed on the sex offenders’ register for three years.
Among critics of the decision was Jamie Greene, a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, who have opposed the sentencing guidelines.
“The lack of a prison sentence is a total insult to the young teenage victim in this case,” Greene told the Telegraph.
There have been similar cases in the United States in recent years. In 2016, former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner served three months of a widely criticized six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. In November 2021, a New York man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse for assaulting four teenage girls during parties at his parents’ home was sentenced to eight years of probation after a judge concluded that time behind bars for the man “would be inappropriate. .”
Karla Adam contributed to this report.