Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this incident is that the judge in question is a woman.
Former Department of Public Safety Officer Robb Gary Evans, 43, appeared in a Flagstaff courtroom on Wednesday for sentence. In July, a jury had convicted him of one count of felony sexual assault.
One evening during the summer of 2011, Evans drank eight beers before driving to the Green Room, a bar in downtown Flagstaff. The bar has a cover charge but Evans didn't pay; he flashed his badge instead.
According to witnesses, he pinched one woman on her behind before putting his hand up the skirt of the victim. The victim complained and the bar forced Evans to leave. Evans yelled he was a cop and threatened to arrest the establishment's bouncers.
The victim later pressed charges that led up to Evans being charged, tried and convicted for felony sexual assault.
At the sentencing hearing, Evans had a lot of support from friends and fellow law enforcement officers including a former candidate for Flagstaff police chief. An ex girlfriend was quoted in the Arizona Republic
as telling the judge, "These people put their lives on the line every day. I hope you'll be lenient on him. To me, this is one way we can give a little back to those in law enforcement who give so much to us every day."
The maximum sentence for the crime Evans was convicted of is 2 1/2 years in prison. He received two years probation. But not before the victim received a lecture from Coconino County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Hatch.
The Arizona Daily Sun
reports Hatch said she hopes both the defendant and the victim learned something from the case. After saying "bad things can happen in bars," Hatch said, "If you wouldn't have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you." She added, "When you blame others, you give up your power to change."
The judge's remarks sparked outrage in the Arizona city. Calls were made for Hatch to resign and a petition
on Change.org calling on her to step down garnered over 14,000 signatures.
Hatch refused to step down but did issue an apology
. After saying both defendants and victims should be treated fairly and with respect, and that victims who come forward to report crimes should not be blamed, Hatch said,
"In a recent case, my in-court comments to the victim at sentencing did not further these important tenets. My comments were poorly communicated and for that, I am truly sorry if they caused the victim further distress.
"I apologize to the victim for any additional anguish my comments may have caused. It was never my intention to make a situation worse for any victim. I have learned an important lesson and will apply what I have learned to future cases, to ensure that the rights and views of all victims are heard and respected."