A well-connected heir to the Dupont fortune got no prison time after admitting to raping his three-year-old daughter, thanks in part to the actions of then-Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
It was February 6, 2009, when Robert H. Richards IV, the great-grandson of Irénée du Pont, the heir to his family’s fortune, admitted to the crime, The News Journal reported.
Richards was charged with two counts of second-degree rape in October 2007, punishable by a minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted
“Attorney General Beau Biden’s office indicted him on the same charges in January 2008,” explained the News Journal. “But in June of that year, days before a scheduled trial, [prosecutor Renee] Hrivnak allowed Richards to plead guilty to one count of fourth-degree rape, which carries no mandatory prison time with sentencing guidelines that recommend a sentence of zero to 30 months in prison.”
“I feel horrible what I did to my daughter,” the defendant said during his hearing in front of Superior Court Judge Jan R. Jurden.
“I feel very remorseful and very sad about what, the damage that I’ve done to her. There’s no excuse for what I’ve done to her. It’s horrible and, and I’d like probation, like [attorney Eugene] Maurer has said,” he begged.
The judge gave him an eight-year prison sentence but suspended all of it in favor of Level-II probation which would require an intensive treatment program at an inpatient psychiatric clinic in Massachusetts and monthly meetings with a probation officer.
“The only reason I’m doing this is so that probation can be transferred, and I don’t know what we’re going to do if Massachusetts won’t accept it,” the judge said.
“Probation can be transferred to Massachusetts in order for you to complete this Massachusetts program and you will successfully complete that. That is a condition of you being out on probation,” she said. “You understand that?”
“The intent of the court is that you get to Massachusetts and you successfully complete that treatment as soon as possible,” she reiterated.
But Richards did not complete the program. He did not even start the program, The News Journal reported.
Which begs the question, who signed off on this?
The answer is the late son of Joe Biden, Beau Biden.
As rape is a state crime, the plea deal required the office of the state’s attorney general, which at the time was headed by Beau Biden, to agree to the deal.
At first Biden’s office hit Richards with two charges of second-degree rape. But then his office offered Richards a plea deal to have him cop to fourth-degree rape and recommended probation for the DuPont heir.
“Child sexual abuse cases are among the most serious cases a prosecutor handles. The harm to the victim is profound,” the late Biden said in an op-ed defending the deal.
“A child is vulnerable, and never more so than when the perpetrator is a parent. Juxtaposed against the severity of the crime is the difficulty proving it in a court of law,” he said.
“A prosecutor’s decision about whether to take a child sexual abuse case to trial or to resolve it through a negotiated plea requires the striking of a difficult balance. If the case proceeds to trial, and the jury returns a not guilty verdict, this means that the alleged perpetrator will walk away free, with no conditions attached. There will be no punishment,” he said.
“All of these considerations were in the mind of the prosecutor assigned to the case of Robert H. Richards IV. This was not a strong case, and a loss at trial was a distinct possibility. The only eyewitness to the crime was the [now] four-year-old victim. There was no medical or forensic evidence of any kind. The defendant did not make a statement to the police, although he made an ambiguous apology to the victim’s mother. A conviction would have required twelve jurors to find unanimously, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the crime had occurred,” he added.
“In recognition of the weakness of the case, the assigned prosecutor offered a plea and sentence recommendation that guaranteed the defendant would be required to register as a sex offender, participate in court-ordered sex offender rehabilitation therapy and to have no contact with the victim and any other child under the age of sixteen. A loss at trial would have rendered any of these restrictions impossible,” Biden declared.
David Finkelhor, the director of Crimes Against Children Research Center, said that Biden was correct about how tough it is to prosecute these cases, Forbes reported.
“If the prosecutor is looking at a defense lawyer who is not only very good but also knows how to throw a lot of wrenches into the machinery, and keep things going for a long time and take a lot of effort and time out of his or her staff’s responsibilities to gain a conviction there,” it can lead the prosecutor to drop or lower charges out of exhaustion, Finkelhor said.
We cannot know all of the factors that played a role in Beau Biden’s decision-making. But we do know that a rich and powerful man admitted to raping his three-year-old daughter and did not serve a day in prison.
And we know that the prosecutor who approved of it was the son of Joe Biden. And as much as Biden’s family has been in play during this election, it is tough to fathom why the media have not been examining this case.
Does anyone not believe that if the attorney general’s last name was Trump it would be the topic of relentless coverage every night on the news shows and all day on CNN and MSNBC?