During ruling on a specific case, the judge said rape was "a direct consequence of the social media system"
A judge in Idaho said a man who raped a 14-year-old girl could be released on probation if he agreed not to have sex outside of marriage.
In sentencing 19-year-old Cody Herrera, who pleaded guilty to statutory rape last week, Judge Randy Stoker also linked the case to a breakdown of morality in the social media age, saying: "If I had my way, I would eliminate the internet."
Mr. Herrera was sentenced last week to five to 15 years in prison, but the sentence was suspended in favor of a rehabilitation program of sorts that serves as a middle ground between probation and prison time.
Based on Mr. Herrera’s success in the program, a judge could opt to release him on probation or send him to prison to serve the original sentence. The program usually takes about six months.
"If you’re ever on probation with this court, a condition of that will be you will not have sexual relations with anyone except who you’re married to, if you’re married," Judge Stoker said, according to The Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho.
The newspaper reported that the judge cited Mr. Herrera’s sexual history as a factor in the condition; Mr. Herrera told investigators that he has had 34 sexual partners.
"I have never seen that level of sexual activity by a 19-year-old," Judge Stoker said, according to the newspaper.
In a transcript of the hearing obtained by and reported on by the Guardian, Stoker delivered what amounts to a sermon on modern-day morality in which he connected the 14-year-old victim’s rape to "the social media system".
"I have seen dozens, if not hundreds of sex cases since I’ve been on this bench,” the jurist said. “Our society has come to a point of, I don’t even know how to explain it, you know? I am 66 years of age. When I was 19 years of age, the sexual proclivities of young people wasn’t anything, anything like I see today.
"I think it is a direct consequence of the social media system that we have in this country,” Stoker continued. “I can’t tell you how many times I have seen these cases, ‘How did this happen?’ ‘Well, I met somebody on social media’.”
Stoker conceded that Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other sites might not be the direct cause of all the sexual assault cases he has presided over in the deeply conservative Gem State. But he said “the vast majority” of such cases originate online.
"I can’t change that,” he said. "If I had my way, I would eliminate the internet, and we’d all have better lives. But I can’t do that either. It also says something about, I guess, the level of morality in this country. I can’t change morality. People are going to do what they’re going to do."