SANFORD, FLA. -- A judge who freed a man who pleaded guilty to rape said it would have been a miscarriage of justice to sentence him to prison because the victim was "such a pitiful woman."
Saying the 40-year-old woman was partly to blame for the attack, Circuit Judge Kenneth Leffler rejected a plea agreement calling for Mark Edward McCulloch to serve 4 1/2 years in prison and 10 years on probation. He ordered McCulloch, 36, freed from jail to serve two years probation.
Assistant State Attorney Michele Heller said she was outraged at Leffler's action and would appeal. Gov. Bob Martinez (R), who has no power to remove the judge, urged Leffler to resign. Leffler's retirement is scheduled in December.
"It is almost incomprehensible that an experienced jurist could suggest that a rape victim, in essence, had it coming," Martinez said in a letter to the 62-year-old judge.
Victim advocate Beth Bridges said the victim, who was not in court for the sentencing hearing, was horrified and fears McCulloch will follow through with death threats she said he made during the attack.
Leffler said he was familiar with the woman from a divorce case he handled. "Her past conduct has demonstrated to me there is something seriously wrong with this woman," the judge said during the hearing. "I just have a hard time laying all the blame on him. I don't see how he could take up with her. She was such a pitiful woman."