Biden Appeals Court Nominee Under Fire for Saying Pedophile ‘Has a Lot of Good in Him,’ Shortening Sentence

The judge, whom President Biden called ‘extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law,’ is facing criticism for a soft sentencing of a man who was convicted of sexually abusing two young girls.
Judge Julia Lipez has been nominated to a prestigious seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

One of President Biden’s judicial nominees is facing criticism on social media for suspending part of a pedophile’s sentence while saying he had “a lot of good in him.”

Mr. Biden’s nominee pick for the First Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Julia Lipez,  suspended half of a convicted pedophile’s prison sentence last year. 

Judge Lipez last year sentenced a man from Woodstock, Maine, Michael Smith, to serve only six years in prison for sexually abusing two girls who were only aged 4 and 9 years old at the time the abuse began, the Sun Journal reported

The victims described long-term mental health issues including post-traumatic stress, night terrors, and trouble sleeping following the sexual abuse. “The stress of my predator being free was eating me alive,” one of the victims wrote in a statement before the court, the outlet reported. “Everywhere I go, the feeling of a brick tied to my heart and dragging behind follows,” she said, adding that had been going to therapy for years to try to “undo the damage” the abuse had caused. 

Michael Smith of Woodstock, Maine was convicted of a dozen charges of unlawful sexual contact with two young girls. Oxford County Jail

Smith’s attorney, Walter McKee, argued in court that his client performed small acts of kindness daily. He worked as a jail guard, in animal control and in private security, and had no criminal history.

Judge Lipez said he must serve six years of a 12-year sentence, with probation for four years after, the Sun Journal noted. She noted that she had to weigh his positive qualities against his crimes.

“People are complicated,” Judge Lipez said, adding that she had little knowledge as to how the incident happened. “What I can say is that this is a very tragic situation of a person who has a lot of good in him having done a very reprehensible thing to two children,” she said, noting that it caused “extreme damage.” 

She also said she hoped he could move forward with a “productive life” with family support in the future, the Sun Journal reported. 

Maine’s Department of Corrections indicates that Smith’s earliest release date is in May 2028.

Judge Lipez’s nomination has come under fire from some conservatives and victims’ advocates on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The widely followed X account Libs of TikTok, operated by Chaya Raichik, said that, “These are the kinds of judges that Democrats support.”

Another X account, An Open Secret, a group behind the eponymous documentary about sexual abuse of child and teen boy actors in Hollywood, wrote that “Joe Biden wants to promote” Judge Lipez after she suspended half the sentence of a “convicted pedophile [who] molested 2 little girls.”

The Biden administration, in a May announcement about four judicial nominees which included Judge Lipez, said they all were “extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution.”

“These choices also continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” the White House said in a statement about the nominees, who are four white women.

If confirmed, Judge Lipez will join the same court where her father, Judge Kermit Lipez, has served since 1998. He has had senior status on the court since 2011, a semi retired position where he serves as a circuit judge. He says he will permanently retire when his daughter is sworn in.

Judge Lipez’s office wasn’t immediately reachable for comment on Wednesday, and a representative of Maine’s judicial branch referred the Sun to the White House. 

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

The New York Sun

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