After admitting he raped his three-year-old daughter, a judge sentenced Robert H. Richards IV to probation, writing the du Pont heir “will not fare well” in prison and should instead be subjected to some type of treatment.
According to the arrest warrant filed by a New Castle County Police Detective JoAnna Burton in December 2007, the girl, then 5, told her grandmother, Donna Burg, that Richards sexually abused her.
Burg said the child reported that her father told her it was “our little secret” but said she didn’t want “my daddy touching me anymore.” The girl said her father molested her in the bedrooms of her mother and brother in the mansion at 10 Summit Lane near Winterthur Museum, the arrest warrant said.
Tracy Richards, who confronted her then-husband, told police he admitted abusing his daughter but said “it was an accident and he would never do it again,” the warrant said.
Richards was free on $60,000 secured bail while awaiting trial on the charges that could have put him behind bars for years.
But in June 2008, just days before a scheduled trial, prosecutor Renee Hrivnak offered Richards a plea to a single count of fourth-degree rape, which carries no mandatory time, and he accepted, admitting in court that he abused his child.
It is unclear why Judge Jan Jurden concluded Richards would not “fare well” in prison. As Delaware Online notes, he is 6-foot-4 and weighs upwards of 250 pounds. Moreover, Richards does not have any known illnesses that would prevent him from serving time.
The only noticeable difference between Richards and most other inmates is his wealth.
Richards, who is unemployed, is supported by a trust fund and owns a 5,800-square-foot mansion that he bought for $1.8 million in 2005. The judge’s decision has caused many to question if wealthy defendants are treated differently within the justice system.
The details of Richards’ 2009 rape case recently came to light because his ex-wife filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages for assault, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress on his children.