Outrage in Flagstaff, judge issues apology for blaming sex assault victim

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Coconino County Superior Court judge issued an apology Friday for telling a sexual assault victim that she would not have been assaulted had she not been at a bar.

Judge Jacqueline Hatch made the comments during a sentencing hearing for former Department of Public Safety officer Robb Gary Evans, who was convicted of assault after groping the victim outside a Flagstaff bar.

Judge Hatch issued this apology Friday afternoon:
 
 “As a Coconino County Superior Court judge, it is my responsibility to ensure that all victims and defendants are treated fairly and in a respectful manner in the courtroom. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously. I also believe victims should not be blamed for coming forward to report crimes.
In a recent case, my in-court comments to the victim at sentencing did not further these important tenets. My comments were poorly communicated and for that, I am truly sorry if they caused the victim further distress.

I apologize to the victim for any additional anguish my comments may have caused. It was never my intention to make a situation worse for any victim. I have learned an important lesson and will apply what I have learned to future cases, to ensure that the rights and views of all victims are heard and respected.”

The apology comes the day after Flagstaff radio host Mitch Strohman, of the Mitch and Joe Show on 105.1 The Big Talker publicly admonished the judge on his show.

“Judge Hatch told the woman, who is the victim of a sexual assault, that bad things happen in bars, adding, quote ‘if you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” said Strohman, “Those comments, in my opinion, are repugnant.”

Strohman’s comments prompted the victim to call the show.

“I can’t see any reasoning or logic about why she would put this on me,” she said, “I feel that what she said was not appropriate.”

Arizona judge issues apology to victim of groping