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Judge increases sex offender’s sentence

A Vermont judge vilified for giving a child molester a 60-day jail term imposed a new sentence Thursday, increasing the man’s prison time to three to 10 years, but Vermont's governor said that still wasn't enough.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge who was widely vilified for giving a child molester a 60-day jail term imposed a new sentence Thursday, increasing the man’s prison time to three to 10 years.

Judge Edward Cashman said he felt he could now impose the longer sentence because the state had agreed to provide treatment to the man while he is behind bars. The state had initially said such treatment would not come until after the man served his time.

Mark Hulett, 34, pleaded guilty last year to charges that he had sexual contact with a girl during a four-year period beginning when she was 6.

At the original sentencing Jan 4., Cashman said the best way to ensure public safety was to get Hulett out of prison so he could receive sex offender treatment. Because the Corrections Department concluded that Hulett wasn’t likely to reoffend, he wouldn’t be eligible to receive sex-offender treatment until he reached the end of his jail term.

That short sentence sparked an outcry. Gov. James Douglas called for the judge to resign, and several lawmakers suggested he be impeached. On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly told viewers as video of Cashman rolled: “You may be looking at the worst judge in the USA.”

Judge firm on rationale
In his order Thursday, the judge remained firm in his original belief that sentences must be concerned with more than just punishment.

“The court agrees a punitive response — punishment — is a valuable and necessary component of society’s response to criminal conduct,” he said. “It is a tool that the court has routinely used for the past 24 years on the trial bench. As stated during the sentencing hearing, however, punishment is not enough of a response in some cases.

“This is one of those cases,” he said.

Hulett and his lawyer accepted the longer sentence. Under the original agreement, Hulett could have opted for a trial if a jail term of more than 90 days was imposed.

Governor unhappy
Douglas said he considered the new sentence to still be too lenient considering the crime.

“It’s 18 times 60 days, so it’s certainly an improvement,” the governor said. “Personally, I think it’s inadequate for a crime of that magnitude, but it is certainly better than the first decision.”

Attorney General William Sorrell had also hoped for longer than three years, but he praised the judge for making the change. “I would have rather seen it be a longer sentence as a message to other would-be offenders, but I think Judge Cashman is big enough to change course,” he said.

The victim’s family left the courtroom without comment.

Hulett’s lawyer, Mark Kaplan, said he thought the sentence was fair, adding, “I think it makes sense under the circumstances.”