DEL NORTE COUNTY, Calif. - Texas Congressman Ted Poe told North Coast News that Del Norte County Judge William Follett made the right decision not to run for re-election.
Judge Follett became nationally controversial after he sentenced a 20-year-old man, Nolan Bruder, to four months in jail plus probation for raping his 16-year-old sister. Court documents obtained by North Coast News detail how Bruder's sister protested Bruder's sexual advances until he reportedly got her so high on marijuana "dabs" that she no longer recognized him as her brother.
"The focus of some judges has been on defending, protecting and excusing sex offenders," Poe said. "Victims of sexual assault are often given lifetime sentences of mental pain and turmoil. As a community, we must do everything we can to support and aid victims. Judge Follett has made the right decision to leave the bench."
Follett's May 17 sentencing sparked a lot of upset throughout the country. The district attorney in the case, Del Norte County DA, Dale P. Trigg, said he couldn't disagree more with Follett's decision. Trigg said Judge Follett believed the stigma of this conviction along with mandatory sex offender registration requirements would sufficiently deter Bruder and others in the community.
On May 25, Congressman Poe stood before the House of Representatives in Washington D.C., calling for Follett's removal.
"Mr. Speaker," Poe said. "Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, contrary to what Judge Follett thinks. Judge Follett got it wrong. He got it wrong in this case, and it’s time for him to pack his toothbrush and leave the bench. And that’s just the way it is."
After reaching out to the Del Norte County Superior Court last week, officials told North Coast News that Judge Follett announced he will not be seeking re-election. However, officials said Follett had been planning to retire anyway. A petition started two weeks ago to remove Judge Follett has gained over 5,000 signatures.