It’s as if it never happened.
A judge sentenced three Muslim refugee boys in the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in Idaho, but nobody knows the length or terms of the sentence because the judge has barred everyone in the courtroom, including the victim’s own parents, from speaking about the case.
The three boys — two from Iraq ages 7 and 10, and one from Sudan aged 14 — pleaded guilty in juvenile court in April to multiple counts of sex crimes in an incident that occurred last June in Twin Falls. The assault occurred at Fawnbrook Apartments, when 5-year-old Jayla, who is developmentally disabled, was lured into a laundry room, stripped of her clothing and sexually assaulted while the oldest boy filmed the entire incident.
Now, following a sentencing hearing Monday at the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center in Twin Falls, Judge Thomas Borresen of Idaho’s 5th Judicial District issued a gag order preventing everyone in the courtroom from saying anything about the sentence received by the boys.
Borresen did allow the family to say they were unhappy with the sentencing, but threatened to jail them for contempt of court if they say why they are unhappy.
“We can’t talk about it since it’s a sealed case,” said Lacy Peterson, the girl’s mother, when contacted by WND Tuesday.
Travesty: Migrant attackers of 5-year-old unpunished by Pamela Geller
The family’s attorney also told WND he was bound by the judge’s gag order.
Mark Guerry sent the following text message to WND:
“Sorry but I am forbidden by court order from discussing anything that has gone on in the proceedings, especially the outcome of the sentencing. This is a juvenile case, which by its nature makes it a closed proceeding, and the judge has made it clear again that anyone who discusses it with the media, etc., will be held in contempt. Sorry but my hands are tied. All I can do is tell you the parents were not satisfied with the results of this case. They were especially upset with the prosecutor’s repeated statements in the media defending the juvenile defendants, rather than focusing on the victim. I can’t say anymore.”
Mathew Staver, chairman and co-founder of the nonprofit legal assistance agency Liberty Counsel, told WND that Judge Borresen was completely out of line in issuing a gag order after the fact in a criminal case.
“It’s unconstitutional for the judge to do that. There are gag orders that can be put on people during a jury trial, or if it’s a minor they can prohibit you from mentioning the name of the minor, but they can’t gag you after the fact,” Staver said. “This is public at this point. This judge, it just seems like he’s forgotten about the First Amendment in this case. He has no authority to do this, he can’t hold someone in contempt to keep them from speaking out about their displeasure with the case after the fact.”
Staver said case law is clear on the subject of gag orders.
“That’s a shame what happen to their little girl. This judge can’t gag them. They can voice their displeasure all they want to, this judge can’t do a thing to stop them,” he said. “Case law is clear. You cannot gag someone after the case is over. Anyone can comment on it, especially the victims. It’s my understanding what they wanted to do was criticize the outcome and they have that right.”
Staver said he feels so strongly about the issue of free speech that he would be willing to take the family’s case and challenge the judge’s order.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989.
This isn’t the first time an official in Idaho has tried to squelch free speech in relation to the Twin Falls sexual assault case.
After the case came to light last summer, the former Obama-appointed U.S. attorney for Idaho, Wendy Olson, threatened to prosecute anyone who promulgated “false or inflammatory information” about the crime or the perpetrators. She was later forced to walk back the comments after being criticized by constitutional experts.
In a op-ed for WND, anti-Shariah activist Pamela Geller called the judge’s decision “a Travesty of Justice as Idaho Muslim Migrant Rapists Go Unpunished.”
“The travesty of justice in Idaho is now complete…instead of getting justice, the victim’s family has been abused by law enforcement and governing authorities as if they were the criminals – because what happened to their little girl contradicts the politically correct narrative about Muslim migrants,” Geller wrote. “On Monday, the perpetrators were sentenced, and the final injustice was done to this poor girl.”
Geller said there were 12 to 15 people in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing and one of them leaked the outcome to her anonymously.
“And the more I heard, the more I understood why this judge wanted to keep all the proceedings secret,” she said.
“Janice Kroeger, the senior deputy prosecuting attorney, who was supposed to be trying these boys for their crimes, defended the boys and repeatedly attacked Lacy, the victim’s mother. A therapist for the boys was present, as well as a parole officer and a detective. Everything that was said was designed to portray the perpetrators as victims. Throughout the proceedings, they were repeatedly called victims.”
The court heard about how the attackers are doing well in school, and about how smart they are, according to Geller.
“They were praised for the supposed ordeal they had to go through. It was claimed that all three are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from having to go through courtroom proceedings.
“After this lovefest, which lasted for five hours in the courtroom, all three boys were sentenced, one after the other,” she continued. “All three were given probation. They were not found guilty of rape, but of sexually lewd conduct.”
Geller said every time the family’s lawyer, Guerry, tried to speak up, he was silenced.
The 5-year-old victim, Jayla, was never mentioned by Kroeger or the judge – or by the police.
Lacy, in her statement to the court, described how Jayla is still struggling with the trauma of the attack – wetting the bed and having bad dreams, among other issues.
“Yet when Lacy completed her statement, Kroeger lashed out not at the perpetrators or their parents, but at Lacy,” Geller writes. “She viciously tongue-lashed Lacy for a full 15 minutes, until finally Judge Borresen had to stop her.”