Instead of sentencing him to prison in the 2009 rape case, Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden let Robert Richards IV, the 46-year-old heir to the du Pont chemical fortune, walk free. The Du Pont family is famous for creating what became the largest gunpowder firm in the world during the 1800s, and to this day the family is known to be extremely wealthy.
The judge offered the grandson of patriarch Irenee du Pont a plea of fourth-degree rape, a charge that doesn’t result in any jail time, and Richards accepted. Judge Jurden argued that Richards, who admitted to abusing his 3-year-old daughter in exchange for the plea, “wouldn’t fare well” in prison.
She has a point: criminals who go to jail for hurting kids are often targeted and attacked by other prisoners, taking “justice” into their own hands.
But the unemployed du Pont heir, who lives off a trust fund, doesn’t seem especially vulnerable at 6’4″ and 250+ pounds. And prison officials can easily keep at-risk inmates in protective custody or solitary confinement, away from all the other prisoners.
Some people are wondering whether Richards’ millions could have influenced his extra-light sentence. Brendan O’Neill of Delaware, a public defender who helps people who can’t afford lawyers, told The News Journal that there’s never a good reason for any difference in sentencing.
He said, “Prison is to punish, to segregate the offender from society, and the notion that prison serves people well hasn’t proven to be true in most circumstances.”
Judge Jurden and the President of the Superior Court didn’t respond to The News Journal’s request for comments on the case.
This sure doesn’t sound like justice. For whatever reason, Richards’ sentence definitely doesn’t match up with the inhuman crimes he committed against his kids. If that pisses you off, check out Human Rights Watch, an organization that upholds standards of justice and holds officials accountable for their decisions. Click the action box above to show your support, and share this story with your friends to Become the News.