LENIENT JUDGE UNDER MICROSCOPE AFTER QUESTIONABLE RULINGS

A judge here in Kansas blamed two teenage girls for a sexual encounter with a 67-year-old man. Leavenworth County Judge Michael Gibbens spent nearly a decade on the bench, where he oversaw mostly sealed juvenile and child-in-need-of-care cases behind closed doors before taking over the adult criminal cases for a retiring judge last summer. Since then however, Judge Gibbens’ rulings have drawn more than a little criticism. His decision back in December is one of the most glaring. It was in a sex abuse case where he went soft on a man’s sentence after saying the victims, ages 13 and 14, were “more an aggressor than a participant.” In July, he sentenced a man to probation for battery of a law enforcement officer. And back in November, he gave another man probation for bringing contraband into a state prison. Police say they were disappointed with the probationary sentence Gibbens gave 19-year-old De’Aire McNeal in July for pushing Officer Sarah Moreno when she was attempting to arrest him, causing the officer to suffer a concussion after she was knocked down a flight of stairs. Gibbens was up for retention last year and won’t be on the ballot again until 2022. Gibbens also has not faced any disciplinary actions. Gibbens also diverged from sentencing guidelines involving Charles Newsome, who admitted to bringing marijuana, synthetic marijuana and tobacco into the Lansing Correctional Facility. Gibbens gave Newsome probation despite a plea agreement in which the prosecution and defense had agreed to what was already a below-guideline sentence of two years in prison… well below sentencing guidelines which called for about four years behind bars.