GOP joins forces with Dems to approve Biden judicial nominee who gave sex offender probation

A Biden nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reportedly has a history of going soft on child predators.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge DeAndrea G. Benjamin, who’s currently on track to be confirmed to the Fourth Circuit, sentenced one such predator to only three years of probation just a month ago.

“A 34-year-old Orangeburg man pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. … David Austin Gillespie, of 3328 Timberline Drive, entered his guilty plea at the Orangeburg County Courthouse before Circuit Judge DeAndrea Benjamin,” The Times and Democrat reported in early November.

“Benjamin sentenced him to eight years in prison, suspended to three years of probation. … Gillespie also forfeited his seized devices and registered as a sex offender,” the report continued.

According to station WLTX, Gillespie was originally arrested in 2015 on 11 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

“Investigators say Gillespie was involved in sending child pornography via file sharing across the internet,” the station reported.

The pornography was found “after members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force completed a forensic examination of computer-related items seized in a search warrant executed in early March” of that year.

Yet Benjamin made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee despite this, thanks in part to Sens. Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis reportedly crossing the aisle and voting with Democrats.

That said, Benjamin isn’t the first Biden nominee with a history of going soft on child predators. Over the summer, Sen. Josh Hawley grilled U.S. Sentencing Commission nominee Laura Mate over her decision to sign a letter in 2013 that argued that the sentencing guidelines for child porn offenders are too harsh and that there should be no mandatory minimum sentences.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he specifically asked Mate, who’d been with the Federal Public and Community Defenders since 2010, point-blank whether she’d signed the letter.

“Didn’t you sign a letter in July of 2013 in which you argued that the child pornography guidelines were too severe — is that right?” he said.

Mate admitted she’d signed the letter — “yes, I did” — but tried to play it off by arguing that the Federal Defenders as a whole had written it.

Hawley didn’t care for this answer.

During Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings earlier this year, it was likewise discovered that she too had a tendency of demonstrating leniency, even in “sadomasochistic” child-porn cases.

“Over and over, the records reveal, Jackson made excuses for the sex fiends’ criminal behavior and cut them slack in defiance of investigators and prosecutors — and sometimes even probation officers serving her court — who argued for tougher sentences because the cases were particularly egregious or the defendants weren’t remorseful,” the New York Post, which obtained transcripts of Jackson’s sentencing hearings, reported.

Case in point: In July 2020, she granted Cristopher Michael Downs the lightest sentence possible despite him having been convicted of “distributing images and videos of infants being sexually abused.”

Jackson heard evidence that Downs had posted 33 graphic photos to a private online chat room called “Pedos Only,” including, court records reveal, images of a naked little girl as young as two years old, another of adult males raping “a prepubescent female child,” and a 10-second video of “a prepubescent female lying in a bathtub and with an adult male inserting his penis into her mouth.”

In the chat room, Downs bragged, “I once fooled around with my 13-year-old cousin.”

Following his conviction, Jackson admitted that she knew Downs was at “risk of reoffending” but stuck with the ruling nevertheless, arguing that the traditional sentencing enhancements were “outdated” and “substantially flawed.”

Thus, instead of the nearly six years requested by prosecutors, Jackson imposed the statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 60 months and then credited Downs for the time he’d spent incarcerated, going back to his arrest for the crimes in October 2018. In the end, Downs was sentenced to just 38 months of jail time.

It’s not clear why President Joe Biden keeps nominating women who apparently have a soft spot for child predators. What’s known is that the president himself has been accused of being a predator because of his habit of inappropriately touching and sniffing both grown women and little girls.

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Vivek Saxena

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