Judge Philip Kirk, who is known for his blunt language when addressing defendants during sentencing, has been asked to apologize for what he said to Delton Gorges.
Kirk sentenced Gorges to seven years in prison on May 9. The former New London school bus driver was convicted of sexually assaulting boys.
During sentencing, the judge told Gorges that his homosexuality and his concealing it were “a strong component in your character.”
Kirk noted that Gorges had hidden his homosexual tendencies because in the 1940s and 1950s it would have been dangerous to “come out of the closet.
“You know you had to be very careful because you could have found your penis floating in the Wolf (River) as walleye bait,” Kirk said. “It was a terrible lie to have to live.”
Kirk’s comments during sentencing, which were videotaped and later posted on YouTube, have since gone viral over the Internet.
Among his more controversial statements, Kirk told Gorges, “I think you were born gayer than a sweet-smelling jockstrap.”
Kirk also said, “I think that if anyone believes that in the last 10 years or 15 years all of a sudden you developed an interest in homosexuality and young boys, then I must have looked ravishing in my prom dress.”
Two state groups issued a joint press release Friday, May 13, asking Kirk to apologize for his comments.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault described Kirk’s remarks as distasteful and accused him of perpetrating myths that gay men are more likely to molest children than heterosexual men.
The press release noted that a molested child is 100 times more likely to be the victim of a heterosexual than a homosexual.
“This myth continues to spread like wildfire when damaging statements like Judge Kirk’s were made and has potentially harsh consequences for gay men. For example, these lies are used to deny loving gay male couples the right to adopt, become foster parents or to serve as volunteers in some organizations,” the press release said.
The father of one of Gorges’ victims defended Kirk’s statements at the sentencing.
“The judge can say whatever he wants in his courtroom and shouldn’t have to worry about offending anyone,” the victim’s father said. “Just look at the people he has to deal with. Delton Gorges started this stuff 35 years ago, and lied to everyone the whole time, he’s the real offender here.”
Kirk told the County Post that he did not equate homosexuality with being a pedophile when he sentenced Gorges.
He said his remarks were intended to stress that Gorges had lied about his sexuality during the pre-sentencing investigation.
“The defendant represented himself as a heterosexual. He was not,” Kirk said. “It raises the issue of his credibility.”
Kirk said that he made the comments he did regarding Gorges’ claims of being a heterosexual “with an emphasis to overcome any ambiguity about it being a lie.”
Kirk said Gorges is a pedophile who also happens to be homosexual.
“I did not make a broad, pejorative generalization about gays being synonymous with pedophiles. I don’t believe that. I have never believed that. To have such a belief is prehistoric,” Kirk said. “The comments were directed to the defendant and the unique circumstances of that particular crime. Anyone who can translate that into a broad pejorative is someone who doesn’t understand the English language the same way I do.”
John Faucher, editor of the County Post East, contributed to this article.