A 47-year-old heir of the Du Pont chemical fortune who lives off his trust fund got probation for the rape of his daughter after a judge found he wouldn’t “fare well” behind bars, The News Journal reports.
The 2009 criminal rape sentence for Robert H. Richards IV was publicized this month as part of a civil lawsuit brought by his ex-wife, Tracy, who sought damages for the abuse of their daughter.
It’s not clear why news of the indictment against Richards only came out after his wife filed a civil lawsuit against him. The News Journal has noted his indictment did not receive media attention, and that the case was never “disclosed publicly” by Delware authorities.
We’ve reached out to Delaware’s attorney general for more information on why his office did not publicize the case.
Richards, whose great-grandfather was Irenee du Pont, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree rape — a felony that can carry a 15-year prison sentence, according to the News Journal. While Judge Jan Jurden gave Richards 8 years in prison, she suspended the entire sentence. That means he won’t go to prison unless he violates his probation.
“Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 [prison] setting,” Jurden said in her sentencing order.
The news that Jurden was concerned with how Richards would “fare” in prison surprised area lawyers, who viewed Jurden as a tough judge, according to the New Journal.
“It’s an extremely rare circumstance that prison serves the inmate well,” Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O’Neill, told the News Journal. “Prison is to punish, to segregate the offender from society, and the notion that prison serves people well hasn’t proven to be true in most circumstances.”
The implication of Jurden’s suspended sentence obviously raises the question that Richards may have received special treatment because of his wealth and status. The New Journal has previously noted that Richards has ties to two storied families — the Du Ponts and the Richards, who founded the law firm Richards Layton & Finger.
The lawsuit filed by his ex claims that he penetrated his 3-year-old daughter with his fingers while he was masturbating. That lawsuit also claims he sexually abused his 19-month-old son, though he hasn’t admitted to that alleged abuse.
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