Penn. judge proposes sentence of $1 per grope for man convicted of sexual harassment

Penn. judge proposes sentence of $1 per grope for man convicted of sexual harassment
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

A Pennsylvania judge recently proposed fining a man $1 for every time he groped a woman. 

Somehow, Common Pleas Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus was being serious — and now, the Allegheny County District Attorney's office plans to report him, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Nauhaus offered his contentious proposition during an appeals hearing for an 18-year-old offender convicted for sexually harassing a younger girl when they were both in middle and high school. The defendant had groped the victim on a number of occasions and was fined $300 for his behavior. 

According to BuzzFeed, the defendant has been "in the state's child-welfare system for some time." When he appeared before Nauhaus on April 26, his lawyer, Dawn Walters, told the court he couldn't afford the fee and asked for the defendant to serve community service instead. He knew what he did was wrong and wanted to apologize, Walters said, but simply did not have $300. 

That's when Nauhaus threw out several brow-raising statements.

"Listen, I can name at least one adult that thinks [groping is] okay," the judge said, adding that the unnamed adult is "an important guy" — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump as a standard of acceptability for sexual harassment. 

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Tisak requested Nauhaus impose a sentence of 90 days probation and a no-contact order, saying he wanted the defendant to "stay away from" his client. 

Nauhaus went further, according to court transcripts:

The court: Fine. I'm going to give him a 90-day postponement. He has to do community service. And he has to pay a $3 fine. How many times did he touch?
The victim: I'm going to say about six times maybe.
The court: A $6 fine. 

Tisak argued it was "just highly inappropriate to tell a young girl that inappropriate touching is worth a dollar at a time," and that no fine at all would be better than that. 

Common Pleas Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus following his controversial sentencing of former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin
Source: 
Keith Srakocic/AP

In a statement to BuzzFeed, a spokesperson for the district attorney's office said the judge's "conduct has no place in our [judicial] system and the District Attorney will bring it to the attention of the appropriate persons and, if necessary, the Judicial Conduct Board." 

It's apparently not the first time Nauhaus has stumbled during his time on the bench. According to the Post-Gazette, Nauhaus forced former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin to pose for photos when she was handcuffed following a corruption conviction. The picture was meant to accompany handwritten apology notes to be mailed to every judge in Pennsylvania. An appeals court shut down the photo requirement. 

In this instance, Nauhaus acknowledged to the Post-Gazette he was sentencing "an absolutely troubled child" and attempted to explain his brusque behavior in court.

"I have to find some way of punishing," he said. "It was obvious he had done something wrong. They came before me with no suggestion. ... It's almost impossible. It's frustrating. I didn't mean to mock. I didn't mean to denigrate. I just wanted somebody to give me an answer. That's their job."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Gorgeous photo series shatters stereotypes about what it means to be beautiful

Zuly's tip: It's all a social construct.

Rick Ross won’t sign women rappers because he’s afraid he’ll sleep with them. That’s a problem.

He's trying to be funny, but this is not an uncommon attitude about women in the rap industry.

Study finds men’s sperm count steady falling, not unlike Gilead’s dystopian future

Sperm count and quality is apparently sinking among men across continents, putting us on a course for human extinction.

Meet the woman behind the trans-inclusive all-women’s music festival in Southern California

The creators of MOTHERSHIP are hoping to create a safe space for women-identified artists and fans.

Despite protest from Senate women, GOP advances devastating bill for women’s health

The Senate will now discuss possible amendments to the American Health Care Act.

The Women’s March launches ‘Resistance Revival’ in effort to keep anti-Trump momentum going

“Sometimes you have to preach to the choir if you want them to keep on singing.”

Gorgeous photo series shatters stereotypes about what it means to be beautiful

Zuly's tip: It's all a social construct.

Rick Ross won’t sign women rappers because he’s afraid he’ll sleep with them. That’s a problem.

He's trying to be funny, but this is not an uncommon attitude about women in the rap industry.

Study finds men’s sperm count steady falling, not unlike Gilead’s dystopian future

Sperm count and quality is apparently sinking among men across continents, putting us on a course for human extinction.

Meet the woman behind the trans-inclusive all-women’s music festival in Southern California

The creators of MOTHERSHIP are hoping to create a safe space for women-identified artists and fans.

Despite protest from Senate women, GOP advances devastating bill for women’s health

The Senate will now discuss possible amendments to the American Health Care Act.

The Women’s March launches ‘Resistance Revival’ in effort to keep anti-Trump momentum going

“Sometimes you have to preach to the choir if you want them to keep on singing.”