DA plans to report judge for suggesting $1 fine for each inappropriate touch in harassment case

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The district attorney in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is criticizing a judge who suggested a $1 fine for each inappropriate touch in a juvenile’s harassment case.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., says the judge will brought to the attention of “the appropriate persons and, if necessary, the Judicial Conduct Board,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Common Pleas Senior Judge Lester Nauhaus is defending his conduct. He tells the Post-Gazette that he made the suggestion because he wanted the prosecutor to suggest an appropriate penalty.

The case involved an 18-year-old who was fined $300 for a harassment conviction stemming from inappropriate sexual touching when he and the victim were in middle and high school. A lawyer for the youth had challenged the fine as unaffordable.

Nauhaus asked the prosecutor what punishment was being sought, and the prosecutor replied 90 days of probation and a no-contact order. The Post-Gazette says this exchange followed:

Nauhaus: “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.”

Nauhaus: “A $6 fine.”

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Tisak: “It is just highly inappropriate to tell a young girl that inappropriate touching is worth a dollar a time.”

Nauhaus asked what fine was being sought since the defendant had no money. Tisak replied that didn’t care if the fine was “zero dollars.” Nauhaus then said the penalty would be “zero dollars. Ninety days. No contact. Twenty hours of community service.”

Nauhaus told the Post-Gazette he was trying to find some way of punishing the youth and he wanted a suggestion. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “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.”




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