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Under fire, judge ups molester's sentence

Associated Press
Published January 27, 2006


BURLINGTON, Vt. - A judge vilified as soft on crime by bloggers, TV commentators and politicians for giving a child molester just 60 days in jail increased the sentence Thursday to three to 10 years behind bars.

Vermont District Judge Edward Cashman said he decided to impose the longer sentence because state officials reversed course and agreed to provide sex-offender treatment to 34-year-old Mark Hulett in prison.

At the time the judge imposed the original sentence Jan. 4, Hulett had been ruled ineligible for treatment until he got out of prison. Cashman said the lighter sentence was the only way to make sure Hulett got prompt treatment.

In his latest order, Cashman again said he is concerned with more than just punishment.

"The court agrees a punitive response - punishment - is a valuable and necessary component of society's response to criminal conduct," he said. " As stated during the sentencing hearing, however, punishment is not enough of a response in some cases. This is one of those cases." Hulett, 34, pleaded guilty to charges that he had sexual contact with a girl during a four-year period beginning when she was 6.

After issuing the original sentence, Cashman received a storm of criticism. Gov. James Douglas called on the judge to resign, and lawmakers demanded his impeachment.

Douglas said he considered the new sentence still too lenient.

"It's 18 times 60 days, so it's certainly an improvement," Douglas said. "Personally I think it's inadequate for a crime of that magnitude, but it is certainly better than the first decision."

Hulett will have to serve at least three years behind bars.

"I think it is fair," said his lawyer, Mark Kaplan.

The victim's family left the courtroom without comment.