Wealthy Heir Receives Only Probation for Rape of Three-Year-Old Daughter

Robert H. Richards, IV. (Delaware Sex Offender Registry)
Robert H. Richards, IV. (Delaware Sex Offender Registry) –Robert H. Richards, IV. (Delaware Sex Offender Registry)

A wealthy du Pont family heir convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter faced only probation and treatment after a Delaware Superior court judge found he would “not fare well’’ in prison, court documents reveal.

Robert Richards IV is the unemployed great-grandson of the late family patriarch Irénée du Pont, and is financially supported by a family trust fund.

He was convicted of fourth degree rape — a Class C violent felony that can carry up to 15 years in prison, but has no minimum sentencing requirements — in 2009.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden's sentencing order for Robert H. Richards IV suggested that she considered unique circumstances when deciding his punishment for fourth-degree rape. Her observation that prison life would adversely affect Richards was a rare and puzzling rationale, several criminal justice authorities in Delaware said. Some also said her view that treatment was a better idea than prison is a justification typically used when sentencing drug addicts, not child rapists.

Richards' 2009 rape case became public this month after attorneys for his ex-wife, Tracy, filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the abuse of his daughter.

The fact that Jurden expressed concern that prison wasn't right for Richards came as a surprise to defense lawyers and prosecutors who consider her a tough sentencing judge. Several noted that prison officials can put inmates in protective custody if they are worried about their safety, noting that child abusers are sometimes targeted by other inmates.


O'Neill said the way the Richards case was handled might cause the public to be skeptical about "how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system."

The News Journal notes Richards lives in a $1.8 million, 5,800-square-foot mansion in Greenville, and owns a second home in an exclusive neighborhood near Rehoboth Beach.

You can read the Free Press’s full expose here.


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