A story so bizarre and sick has just risen from obscurity to disgust and surprise the public. Can a man actually confess to sexually abusing and raping his own children without being sent to prison? The answer, apparently, is yes. In a shocking revelation this week, it was discovered that Robert H. Richards IV, heir to chemical giant Du Pont, got no actual prison time for the conviction of child rape and sexual assault on his own daughter back in 2008. Instead, the judge who presided over the case handed down a sentence of 8 years probation due to the opinion that Richards would not “fair well” in a prison-like environment.
Robert H. Richards IV is an apparently very wealthy descendant of E.I. Du Pont, founder of the American chemical company. He lives in the lap of luxury in a lavish estate in Delaware. It’s an environment that he is used to, and even being convicted of most serious of offenses has not been able to tear him away. Roughly 6 years ago, Richards assembled a team of high priced lawyers to help defend himself against charges of sexually abusing and raping his own daughter. At the time of the initial abuse in 2005, she was only three years old.
At the age of five, Richards’ daughter came forward with allegations of molestation. She had explained to her grandmother that she did not want the abuse continue, and had been told by Richards that the incidences were a “little secret”. Not long after, Richards was arrested on charges of child rape. Initially, Richards denied the charges. However, upon failing a lie-detector test, he admitted to the sex crimes. Richards then plead guilty to the rape charges in 2008.
Superior Judge Jan Jurden applied, at first, an 8-year prison sentence. However, that sentence was suspended on the notion that “[Richards] will not fair well in a [prison] setting”, she wrote. Receiving no prison time at all, for the child rape of his young daughter, Du Pont heir Robert H. Richards IV instead received 8-years probation with monthly visits from a caseworker. He was also ordered to pay a “whopping” $4,395 to the Delaware Violent Crimes Compensation Board. The judge’s decision was recently supported by Delaware public defender Brendan J. O’Neill, who said that prison does not always serve “the inmate well”, hinting that illness cannot be treated with punishment.
It seems records of this case were kept out of the public eye until recently, when mother of Richards’ children and ex-wife Tracy, decided to file a civil lawsuit on March 18th 2014 against the child abuser for punitive and compensatory damages stemming from attacks on two of their children. In 2010 evidence arose, upon taking another polygraph test, that Richards may have also sexually abused his son in 2005 (the child was 19 months old). However, Richards claims to have blocked out much of that experience.
Du Pont heir Richards, convicted child abuser and rapist, has received no prison time to this day, for his heinous crimes. Prosecution lawyer for his ex-wife Tracy in the current civil suit has stated that Richards “… didn’t go to jail and, in fact, he stays in luxury where he’s always been,”
Opinion by Josh Taub