Several Republican senators cited Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s decision to sentence niece rapist Leo Weekes to half the prison time sought by prosecutors — allowing Weekes to allegedly assault another relative when he would have been locked up — ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Monday vote on Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Details of the case — which were reported by The Post on Sunday — were not widely known during Jackson’s confirmation hearings, meaning she didn’t face questions about her decision to give Weekes 12 months behind bars for falsifying sex offender registration information rather than the 24 the government had requested.
The full story of Jackson’s role in Weekes’ case emerged in a cache of records delivered to the Judiciary Committee just ahead of the panel’s scheduled Monday vote.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in his closing remarks that “just three days ago and over a week after the hearings were concluded, we received the sentencing transcripts from a case where Judge Jackson gave yet another light sentence — to a violent child rapist who failed to give truthful information to the court and falsified his address for purposes of requiring a sex offender registry participation.”
Lee said that Weekes “would have been in prison and unable to sexually assault his sister-in-law if Jackson hadn’t sentenced him below the guidelines range and below the government’s recommendation.”
The Weekes revelations followed contentious confirmation hearings where some conservative senators accused Jackson of giving light sentences to people convicted of viewing images of child pornography. Democrats defended Jackson, saying the criticism focused on a small number of examples and overlooked the fact that many Republican-nominated judges similarly deviated from sentencing guidelines.
In 2010, Weekes was convicted of raping his 13-year-old niece and received a sentence of 16 months in prison and four years of probation. He also was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years, but he supplied false information.
Prosecutors asked Jackson in February 2014 to jail Weekes for 24 months for the registration violation, but Jackson said, “I do believe that criminal history is having a disproportionate impact on the sentence that the guidelines prescribe in this particular case in light of what you actually did here,” before sentencing Weekes to 12 months, with credit for time served.
Weekes allegedly assaulted his sister-in-law in June 2015 — during the two-year sentence window prosecutors had requested. Weekes’ relative told DC police that Weekes attempted to rape her after plying her with alcohol while she was babysitting. Weekes “was able to digitally penetrate her vagina with his fingers and then tried to perform oral sex on her,” according to a police report.
Weekes was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, but paid his sister-in-law $2,500 to cease her cooperation with police and a grand jury. He pleaded guilty in March 2016 to obstruction of justice and failing to register as a sex offender and received concurrent sentences of five years and six months, respectively.
In February 2017, Jackson sentenced Weekes to 24 months in prison for probation violations, but allowed the sentence to overlap with his penalty for covering up the assault of his sister-in-law — rejecting a prosecution request for consecutive rather than concurrent punishment.
Two other Republican senators slammed Jackson over her sentencing decision in the case, which she is unlikely to publicly explain in detail because Senate floor proceedings typically do not allow for questioning a committee-approved nominee.
“We just last week, after the hearing, got information on another case … of an individual who raped his 13-year old-niece. Jackson sentenced him to half what the prosecutor wanted because he failed to register on a sex registry and went to work at a daycare,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“Because he was released early, because of Judge Jackson’s sentence, he committed another sexual assault — a rape. Again she had him before her, and again she sentenced him to half of what the prosecutor sought. This is a pattern.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also cited the case, saying “the government asked for him to go to prison for two years. Judge Jackson gave him just one year. During that second year when he should have been in prison, yes, he went on to try to rape again and then bribe the victim with $2,500 to recant her testimony.”
“Judge Jackson is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, over 60 sheriffs and police chiefs leading many of the largest and busiest departments in our nation, and 83 former state attorneys general from both parties — as well as a coalition of anti-sexual violence advocates and survivors,” a White House official told The Post Sunday evening. “She has answered the most questions for the record of any Supreme Court nominee in history and has provided thousands of pages of documents to the committee, including about her decisions — all of which are public record.”
The White House official also noted a press release from Judiciary Committee Republicans during Jackson’s confirmation hearing that mentioned the Weekes case, but did not say when the sentencing transcripts and other documents were transmitted to the committee.
Jackson’s confirmation is widely seen as a foregone conclusion because she requires just 50 votes in the Democrat-held Senate and at least one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, supports her nomination. She is expected to receive committee approval later Monday afternoon and confirmation by the full Senate later this week.
Reporting by The New York Post.