'Reprehensible': Montana attorney general condemns 60-day sentence given to a father who repeatedly raped his daughter, 12, but says there is NO way to appeal it

  • A man who admitted repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter and who was caught in the act by the girl's mother went to jail for only 60 days
  • The perpetrator was even allowed to stagger his sentence so he only had to spend two days in jail at a time 
  • The sentence by Montana District Judge John McKeon drew outrage from the public 
  • A petition to have McKeon pulled from the bench was scuppered when he retired
  • He said he weighed statements from the girl's mother and grandmother as well as an outside expert to have him given outside treatment rather than hardcore prison time 
  • The Montana attorney general's office says there is no way to legally challenge the judge's sentence 

The man who admitted repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter got only 60 days in jail

Montana's attorney general's office has been unable to find legal grounds to challenge a judge's decision to send a man to jail for 60 days for repeatedly raping his 12-year-old daughter.

The amount of time behind bars, considered lenient by many, is 'reprehensible' but that alone was not enough to appeal the October 4 sentence issued by District Judge John McKeon, State Department of Justice spokesman Eric Sell said Monday. 

The man isn't being named to avoid identifying the victim of a sexual assault.

State law in Montana and many other states mandates minimum 25-year-prison sentences for sexual assaults of victims age 12 or younger. The victim was 12.

However, McKeon said a legal exception allowed him to suspend most of the 30-year sentence he gave the man because a court-appointed evaluator said treatment outside of prison was best to rehabilitate the offender while protecting the victim and society.

McKeon, above, drew fire over his decision to suspend the 30-year prison sentence of a man who admitted raping his daughter and giving him a 60-day jail sentence instead

The 30-year sentence is suspended as long as he completes probation and has no contact with minors, reported CNN

The judge also noted the man did not have a felony record, had a job, community and church support, and there was a lack of input from the victim or from an advocate for the victim.

The man must undergo sex offender treatment and faces many other restrictions. He was given credit for 17 days in jail he had served prior to sentencing. 

McKeon said that he took into consideration the wishes of the victim's mother and grandmother and also an outside evaluator, all of whom thought he needed outside psychiatric help rather than prison 

McKeon required him to serve the rest of his jail time within six months, saying he could stagger the time out in two-day jail periods at a time.

McKeon's sentencing order noted the girl's mother and grandmother wrote letters to the court supporting community-based treatment in order to keep the man in the lives of his two sons. The mother walked in on the father raping the child, court records said.

At the perpetrator's sentencing hearing, the victim's family asked the judge that he be spared jail time.

'I do not feel 25 years in prison is necessarily the best way for the defendant to pay for what he has done,' the victim's mother said in a statement.

'He made a horrible choice. He needs help – not to spend 25 years locked up.'

The girl's grandmother also argued that the man should be spared jail in order not to impact his children's lives.

'What he did to my granddaughter was horrible, and he should face consequences,' she said. 'And I certainly never want it to happen again to anyone'

'But his children, especially his sons, will be devastated if their dad is no longer part of their lives.' 

An online petition arguing for McKeon to be impeached drew 260,000 supporters but he retired in late November after announcing earlier in the year and before issuing the sentence that he would do so.

The petition argued that McKeon only listened to those who supported the perpetrator, like the victim's mother and grandmother.  

'This is not what the prosecution wanted,' the Change.org petition, created by a group called Justice4Montana, reads.

'Judge McKeon ignored what the prosecution recommended, and did what he thought was best for the rapist instead of the victim.'

'The sentence may not be a popular decision by certain members of the general public, but it is a just and proper decision given the record before the Court and the law the Court is sworn to uphold,' McKeon wrote in his October 17 sentencing order. 

Assistant Attorney General Dan Guzynski has proposed legislation that would close the loophole that allowed for the sentencing exception.

The attorney general's office will advocate on behalf of that change during the state legislative session that begins on January 2, Sell said.

'We are hopeful that the legislature sees the wisdom in the proposed change,' Sell said. 

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