Prosecutors in Kansas are considering appealing the sentencing decision of a judge who called two minor girls the "aggressor" in a sex-abuse case involving a 67-year-old man.
Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens made the comments during a Dec. 4 sentencing hearing for Raymond Soden, who had been convicted of contacting one of the girls on the internet and offering to pay for sex acts.
Gibbens sentenced Soden to five years and 10 months in prison. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of more than 13 years, citing prior convictions.
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"I do find that the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct," Gibbens said, according to a transcript of the hearing released by the Leavenworth County court. "They were certainly selling things monetarily that it's against the law for even an adult to sell."
Soden was convicted of soliciting a 13-year-old girl on Facebook in January 2018. According to prosecutors, he contacted the teenager and a 14-year-old girl and offered to pay the girls for sex acts.
Gibbens went on to say during Soden's sentencing hearing that the 13-year-old was "certainly an aggressor" because she traveled to Soden's home. He also questioned the level of harm both girls suffered because they were not present for the sentencing hearing.
"Mr. Soden did not travel to her is the way I understood this," the judge said.
NBC News reached out to Gibbens for comment but did not immediately hear back.
In Kansas, a 13- or 14-year-old cannot consent to sexual relations, Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said to NBC News on Monday.
He confirmed that prosecutors are looking into whether to file an appeal.
"Since we use the sentencing guidelines, the judge has to make a substantial, compelling ruling of why to depart" from the guidelines with a lesser sentence, Thompson said. "And we're looking into whether the grounds were met with that."
Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.