Correction: The judge’s conclusion that Robert Richards IV would not “fare well” in prison was contained in documents in Richards’ criminal case — not the civil lawsuit filed by his ex-wife. This post has been updated.
Robert Richards IV, an heir to the du Pont family fortune, served no jail time even though he plead guilty to the fourth-degree rape of his 3-year-old daughter in 2008, according to court documents. The details of that rape case,which received little media attention at the time, were revealed in the aftermath of a lawsuit filed on March 18th on behalf of Richards’ two children by his ex-wife, Tracy Richards. The former Mrs. Richards is now accusing Robert Richards of also sexually abusing their son. The lawsuit is “seeking compensatory and punitive damages for assault, negligence, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress on his two children.” The suit and subsequent developments were first reported by senior reporter Cris Barrish of Delaware’s The News Journal.
Lawyers for Robert Richards IV have 45 days from the time of the March 18 filing to respond in court to the lawsuit. They could not be reached for comment and appear not to have made any public comments on the case thus far.
According to a February 2009 sentencing order in the criminal rape case, Delaware Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden concluded that Robert Richards IV “will not fare well” in prison. Jurden originally sentenced Richards to eight years in prison, then suspended that punishment in favor of Level II probation and ordered the heir — who is supported by a family trust — to pay $4,395 to the Delaware Violent Crimes Compensation Board.
In 2010 Delaware police investigated allegations that Richards had abused his 19-month old son but found no evidence to support those claims. The News Journal reports that investigators are giving the case another look because the new lawsuit alleges that Richards admitted during a lie detector test associated with his probation to abusing his son.
The du Pont family, whose own Samuel Francis Du Pont, a civil war veteran, was once memorialized with a statue in D.C.’s DuPont circle (replaced with a marble fountain in 1920), is no stranger to the courtroom. John E. du Pont was convicted of the 1996 murder of his good friend, the Olympic wrestler David Schulz, and died at age 72 in 2010 in a Pennsylvania prison. In 2000, the husband of du Pont heiress, Lisa Dean Moseley, was convicted of murder in the contract killing of a former prostitute who’d been in a relationship with his wife’s son Dean MacGuigan, also a du Pont descendant. Christopher Moseley died in prison in 2004.
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