Criticized Judge Disqualifies Self From Hearing Sex Cases

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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A Shawnee County district judge who has been criticized for granting light sentences for sex crimes won't hear any other cases involving sex offenses.

Judge Matthew Dowd, who plans to retire is September, disqualified himself from such cases.

Chief Judge Nancy Parrish said in a statement that Dowd acted because of "the appearance that his impartiality might be questioned" after intense public reaction to some of his prior sentencings.

Any pending sex offender cases before Dowd will be reassigned to other judges in the criminal division.

Dowd sentenced 75-year-old Harold Dean Spencer to 36 months of supervised parole for having sex with children ages 6 and 7. Hecht said Kansas statutes, patterned after the national "Jessica's Law'', call for a life sentence on each of the two counts for Spencer.

Dowd sentenced another man, 32-year-old Christopher Henderson-Brown, to 155 months in prison for the rape of a 5-year-old. Sentencing guidelines recommended 166 to 186 months for Henderson-Brown.

Dowd has been criticized before for departing from sex-crime sentencing guidelines.

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