Florida Judge Chet Tharpe, elected to the bench in 1990, with a recent mandate that will see him preside until at least 2015 is a no-nonsense, straight-talking, in-your-face kind of judge. Just the kind of judge that freely distributes “wake-up calls” to sex offenders and other miscreants in Tampa Florida.
Considered firm but fair, Judge Tharpe is not afraid to say what needs to be said, often times providing a reality check for offenders, victims, family members and others touched by criminal behavior in Florida.
Judge Tharpe rolled out his style of justice in a 2010 case where the offender, a 43 year-old father of two teenagers, who sexually molested them over a period of years, starting when they were 12-years-old, enlisted his victimized daughters, his wife and his 13-year-old son to plead to the court for mercy.
The family members begged the court to drop the charges and when that was unsuccessful they implored the judge to reject the State’s offer of a plea deal for a term of five years imprisonment.
The victims’ mother advised the Court that if her husband was imprisoned she would lose the family home and their beloved pets and further, that her husband had been away from the home for a year since he was arrested and charged. She said “I love my husband. I love my kids. I’m stuck in the middle.”
Judge Tharpe listened to her entreaties with a sense of outrage and asked her how she could simply accept her husband’s outrageous, perverted behavior. He then turned to the accused asking for an explanation as to why a prison term was not appropriate. The victims’ father was annoyingly unhelpful, advising Judge Tharpe that he was “at a loss for words”.
Judge Tharpe reserved his more cutting barbs for the child molestor, telling him that despite his protests, he was a pedophile, a sex offender, who would forever be listed on a sex offender registry and see his photograph on the internet identifying him for what he was.
With that said, Judge Tharpe sentenced him to 25 years probation, a term that requires him to live an unblemished life, subject to intense scrutiny, until he is in his mid-sixties.
Florida is known as a haven for sex offenders, possibly because the State has turned its enforcement attention to sex crimes. In 2011 the number of registered sex offenders increased by 74%. In the Greater Tampa area, where Judge Tharpe sits, there are 1,122 registered sex offenders or one for every 306 citizens in the area.
Offenders who appear before Judge Tharpe will not be coddled. Applause for Judge Tharpe!
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang