Judge strays from guidelines
Dowd gives three years probation to convicted sex offender
By Mike Hall
Published Saturday, June 28, 2008
Shawnee County District Court Judge Matthew Dowd, widely criticized in 2007 for granting probation to three men convicted of sex with children, did it again Friday.
Shawnee County District Attorney Robert Hecht said Friday he would appeal both that sentence and a downward sentencing by Dowd in a similar case earlier in the week.
Matthew Dowd Ironically, a new state law going into effect July 1 might have prevented Dowd from granting the probation in Friday's sentencing.
Dowd couldn't be reached Friday afternoon to elaborate on this week's sentencing decisions.
Harold Dean Spencer, 75, entered guilty pleas to two counts of sex with children. Hecht said one of the victims was 6 years old and one 7.
Hecht said that Kansas statutes, patterned after the national "Jessica's Law," call for a life sentence on each count.
But Dowd suspended the prison time and imposed a 36-month supervised parole period. Dowd listed a number of factors in his decision — Spencer's age, the lack of a prior criminal record and the availability of family support.
"I have never seen, nor am I aware of any case, anywhere, where the proscribed sentences are two life sentences and the court grants three years of low level probation," Hecht said.
On Tuesday, Dowd departed downward from sentencing guidelines in a case against Christopher Henderson-Brown, a 32-year-old man convicted of the rape of a 5-year-old child. In that case Dowd lowered the sentence to 155 months from a recommended 166 to 186 months.
"The attack was so violent and so egregious that multiple doctors and surgery were required to reconstruct and repair the physical damage done to this 5-year-old," Hecht wrote in a statement released Friday.
The reason for the appeal, he said, was that Dowd cited as a reason for the departure that he wanted Henderson-Brown to "see light at the end of the tunnel."
"It is this office's opinion that such reason is not a legal justification for a departure in such a crime," Hecht wrote.
Ashley Anstaett, spokeswoman for the Kansas attorney general's office, said late Friday it appears to some of the AG's legal staff that a new state law going into effect July 1 might have prevented Dowd from giving probation in the Spencer case. But she said that, with little time to research the question and with little information about the details of the two cases, the AG's attorney's couldn't make a definitive statement.
Joe Patton, a Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives from Topeka, was a sponsor of the new law. He introduced it after learning of Dowd's 2007 departures. On Friday he said he believes his new law will prevent judges in the future from such drastic downward departures from the guidelines.
When told the details of the Henderson-Brown case, he exclaimed, "That's outrageous. The community should be outraged."
His law would allow judges to depart downward from the guidelines in cases of violent sexual crimes, but by no more than half the recommended sentences.
Dowd has announced he will retire on Sept. 1 after 31 years as a district court judge. Had he wished to remain on the bench, his name would have been on the November election ballot for voters to decide whether he should be retained in the job.
In 2007, he was criticized for three cases in which he departed from state sentencing guidelines to allow probation rather than prison time for men convicted of sex crimes.
Mike Hall can be reached at (785) 295-1209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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+ 1 Rating
Posted by: lclay49 at Jun. 28, 2008 at 2:53:48 am
I'm so astounded by Doud's compassion that I can't even enjoy this rainstorm. I think psychiatrists should try to look into his brain like they do with serial killers and try to discover any anomalies that he has. He is so far out of line morally that Hecht probably had to lean over and retrieve his jaw from the floor.
In the meantime, while the guy is "seeing light at the end of the tunnel" there's a small child who is permanently damaged physically and mentally. Where's the light for the child?
+ 2 Rating
Posted by: kansasman at Jun. 28, 2008 at 3:52:05 am
I can't believe this Judge has done this yet again. He MUST be removed from the bench today. Don't let him retire on his terms!
Posted by: Toe_Peekin at Jun. 28, 2008 at 3:52:15 am
Oh come on lclay49! Topeka really needs to advertise and promote it's assets and good things.
A new marketing slogan for Topeka: "We're Un-friendly to business, but VERY friendly to pedophiles!".
Just think of the new influx of citizens, and all of the big cash for hosting big NAMBLA conventions!
Judge Dowd knows whats important to Topeka: GROWTH! Stop being such a nay-sayer.
+ 1 Rating
Posted by: z28kilr at Jun. 28, 2008 at 4:37:07 am
Do you ever wonder if the reason he is easy on kiddie-diddlers is because he is that way himself?
Posted by: Toe_Peekin at Jun. 28, 2008 at 4:46:09 am
z28kilr: I had considered that, but I don't know if he is a neo-con republican or not.
Posted by: polo2008 at Jun. 28, 2008 at 5:03:21 am
this is ridiculous. someone i know was convicted of sexually abusing a minor, and he got six months probation for that. people like this need to be taught a lesson, that this is wrong, and you cannot ruin children for the rest of their life like this. what has the world become?
Posted by: bluea716 at Jun. 28, 2008 at 5:27:23 am
CJ OH HOW WE FORGET THERE ARE A NUMBER OF OUTRAGEOUS THINGS JUDGE DOWD HAS DONE YOU FORGET TO MENTION THAT IN ALL OF THE POLICE CORRUPTION THAT JUDGE DOWD WAS THE JUDGE WHO WAS SIGNING OFF ON THE BOGUS WARRANTS BRUCE VOIGT WAS PUTTING BEFORE HIM AND DOWD EVEN SAID " I KNOW OFFICER VOIGT WOULD NOT MAKE THIS UP AND I BELIEVE IN OFFICER VOIGT" now that I have all of that off my chest Judge Dowd needs to be given all of that time that he's cutting seeing behaviors like his only make you wonder how long has this $h*T been going on how many innocent people have gone before dowd and end up going to jail or worse prison cause if he's erroring on the bad side what the hell do you think he's doing on the good side maybe administration should let dowd shuffle papers until sept if he has to be there but he's unfit to be a judge without a question of a doubt and he thinks he's right in his justifications in these cases why else would he keep doing this OKAY HECHT SICK HIM!!!!!!!! AND CJ THE WAY YOU HAVE BEEN GOING BACK DIGGING STUFF UP ON PEOPLE WHY NOT MENTION ALL OF THE JUDGES INDISCRESTIONS YOU DO RECALL HOW YOU GO TO THE DIST. COURT AND PULL UP THE DEADS PAST YOU KNOW SAME THING YOU HAVE BEEN DOING WITH THAT IT WOULD BE UNDER HOW MANY CASES DOWD HAS SCREWED UP
Posted by: marge796 at Jun. 28, 2008 at 6:06:17 am
Kick him off the bench prior to his September 1st retirement date. Why let him do things his way and hurt Topeka any more than he already has.
Posted by: lclay49 at Jun. 28, 2008 at 6:07:00 am
Hey Toe_Peekin.....You're right. Yep, you're right. Remember years ago when a disgruntled employee at some bank got into the computer or whatever (I think it was that billboard that used to be close to 29th & Topeka.....It "allegedly said something on the line of "F***ing You Is What We Do.....at ****** Savings".
Well, I thought....perhaps it could happen again....."Topeka---Home Of The Best Friend A Baby Rapist Could Have" (in small print: "If you've raped and abused a child, you're eligible for the Key To The City. Please contact me...Judge Matt Dowd. I've been there, I have compassion. After all, what are Judges for? My motto has always been: "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT")
Posted by: moodysu at Jun. 28, 2008 at 9:12:34 am
Looks to me like Dowd may be guilty of Child Endangerment. This child has had to undergo surgeries to repair damages done by the rape! Dowd should be locked up in a mental institution if he thinks that Henderson-Brown's age, the lack of a prior criminal record and the availability of family support changed since the rape. I guarantee he is the same after the rape as he was before he raped the 5 YEAR OLD CHILD!
These two men Henderson-Brown and Dowd need to be in intense treatment together for Child Sexual Perpetrators.
Posted by: divemaster at Jun. 28, 2008 at 9:13:40 am
Does this judge must like to molest little kids himself? Why does he continue to let these guys loose? Sure makes one wonder if he is some real sicko with a closet full of who knows what. Another reason we don't need judges appointed for a lifetime. Not only do we have judges legislating from the bench, we have them flooding the city with child molesters.
Posted by: Lindacaudill9 at Jun. 28, 2008 at 9:15:00 am
Shawnee County District Court Judge Matthew Dowd MUST be forced to LEAVE office, the sooner the better. This man is a menace to society!! And, he should also be investigated for the criminal activities he punishes so lightly!! Why does he sympathize with child sex offenders????? Is he one??? The Attorney General's office needs to investigate EVERY SINGLE sexual offense case that has been before this judge. I'll bet they would find MANY more that were sentenced so lightly. These poor children have had their lives irrevocably changed FOREVER. The perpetrators should have their lives irrevocably changed as well.
Matthew Dowd is LUCKY none of the victims were my children