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Rape Victim to Judge's $150K Restitution Idea: Uh, No

Bruce Bennett offered to reduce 12-year sentence for Sedrick Hills if he financially compensated victim
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2019 1:08 PM CST
A Judge Sentenced a Rapist, Then Tried to Make a Deal
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Zolnierek)

A rape victim's response to what a Louisiana judge likely thought was a generous offer: No thanks. The AP reports District Court Judge Bruce Bennett made the surprising overture Thursday right after he'd sentenced 44-year-old Sedrick Hills to 12 years behind bars for raping the woman, now 31, in 2003, when she was 15. Bennett's offer to Hills, conditioned on the victim's acceptance of said offer, was that if Hills paid her $150,000, the judge would reduce his jail time. "This will not be considered to be an extortionary offer," Bennett said, per the Advocate. It's not clear what Hills himself thought of the pitch—his attorney said that moment was the first his team was hearing about it—but the victim made her feelings known outside the courtroom.

"I don't think money is going to provide any restitution for what he's done," she said. Meanwhile, DA Hillar Moore noted his office had already "respectfully objected" to the 12-year sentence—the victim wanted at least 16 years, for every year Hills had taken from her since the rape—and hadn't suggested this compensation. In her impact statement read to the court, the victim called the whole experience "like ... a bad movie, a horror movie" and said it "has left me broken." While defense attorneys making restitution offers on behalf of their clients isn't terribly uncommon, a retired sex-crimes prosecutor says such an offer coming from a judge is "unusual and surprising," per the Advocate. Hills' attorney wouldn't comment further on Bennett's proposal. (More rape stories.)

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