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McIntosh ’75 Resentencing

Bad news for Tracy McIntosh ’75.

An appeals court ordered the resentencing of a University of Pennsylvania professor convicted of sexually assaulting a young graduate student, saying the lower court judge treated him more like a “school boy” than a criminal.

Tracy McIntosh, 53, pleaded no contest to a sexual-assault charge and served six months of home confinement last year, a stark departure from the standard sentence for the crime.

Really? And what is that standard sentence? Can an Eph lawyer can tell us what the standard punishment is for first time offenders who plead guilty to sexual assault?

A three-judge Superior Court panel ruled Monday that Common Pleas Judge Rayford A. Means, who sentenced McIntosh, abused his discretion by departing without a suitable reason from the minimum 24- to 36-month prison term recommended under state sentencing guidelines.

In the majority opinion, Superior Court Judge Debra Todd wrote that Means treated McIntosh “less as a criminal than as a school boy requiring direction and supervision.”

The court also ordered that a different lower court judge resentence McIntosh, because the panel was not certain that Means could “preside objectively and fairly.”

Means also had permitted McIntosh to leave the country for a job with a hospital in Milan, Italy, but McIntosh returned two weeks later after an outcry from prosecutors.

McIntosh, a former Fulbright scholar and tenured professor, oversaw about 25 researchers, graduate students and others as director of Penn’s Head Injury Center.

In September 2002, he agreed to take the 23-year-old victim — the niece of his close friend — on a tour of the Penn campus, where she was starting graduate school.

She became violently ill over drinks before he took her back to his office and raped her, prosecutors said. They alleged that McIntosh drugged the woman with an animal sedative from his lab, a charge McIntosh has denied.

McIntosh, who prosecutors said offered the woman marijuana to calm her stomach after she vomited, also pleaded no contest to a drug possession charge.

Defense lawyer Thomas Bergstrom said Tuesday that he and McIntosh would decide over the next month whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Previous EphBlog commentary here.

By the way, what are the odds that McIntosh is innocent, that the young women and he engaged in consensual intercourse and that, only several days after the fact, did she convince herself that a “rape” had occurred? I think that the odds are low, that if the EphBlog community had access to a videotape we would vote to convict, if a trial were held.

But the odds are not zero. There is some possibility that McIntosh is innocent, at least of this crime. (By all accounts, he was a man who, like former President Clinton, sought intimate female companionship outside of his marriage, occasionally among women who worked for/with him. That is not a crime, however.)

And, if McIntosh is innocent, his plight is tragic. His life has been ruined, his career shattered, his finances exhausted. Given the vagaries of a jury, given the pressure that he may have felt to spare his family the trauma of a trial, pleading guilty to sexual assault, rather than run the risk of a rape conviction, might have seemed the sensible course. Perhaps his lawyer so advised him. Perhaps his lawyer predicted in 2004 that, whatever the punishment, his ordeal would be over by 2007.

But the justice system is not done with McIntosh yet. When will it ever be?