Judge Jacqueline Hatch, of Arizona's Coconino County Superior Court, has apologized for her controversial statements made at a sentencing hearing on Wednesday when she told a sex abuse victim: 'If you wouldn't have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you'.
After her statement, the victim called for a public apology and the public demanded that Judge Hatch resign. She has refused to resign, instead issuing a statement of remorse for her incendiary comments.
I apologize to the victim for any additional anguish my comments may have caused,' she said to the Arizona Daily Sun. 'It was never my intention to make a situation worse for any victim'.
Groper: Judge Jacqueline Hatch's comments came as Robb Gary Evans, pictured, was sentenced for putting his hand up the woman's skirt in a bar
'As a Coconino County Superior Court judge, it is my responsibility to ensure that all victims and defendants are treated fairly and in a respectful manner in the courtroom,' she said.
'It's a responsibility I take very seriously. I also believe victims should not be blamed for coming forward to report crimes.'
She went on to say that 'in a recent case', her in-court comments were 'poorly communicated.'
'I am truly sorry if they caused the victim further distress,' she said.
Judge Hatch promised not to make the same mistake again.
' I have learned an important lesson and will apply what I have learned to future cases, to ensure that the rights and views of all victims are heard and respected,' she said.
More than 14,000 people have signed a petition on social activism website Change.org calling for the judge to resign.
The comments came as former Department of Public Safety officer, Robb Gary Evans, 43, was sentenced to two years' probation for the incident, which took place last summer.
The jury found Evans guilty of felony sexual abuse after walking up behind the woman in the bar, in Flagstaff, Arizona, putting his hands up her skirt and touching her inappropriately.
He was fired by DPS after his conviction.
Hatch had said she wasn't blaming the victim in the case but insisted that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.
But the woman who was groped told the Arizona Daily Sun that despite her explanation, she was 'shocked' by the judge's comments, particularly because she was female.
'It felt like she was saying to me, "If you wouldn't have been there that night, it wouldn't have happened to you."
Yeah, well, it probably would have happened to someone else,' she told the newspaper.
'I'm still kind of in shock that she said that to me.
'Coming from a woman, I would expect her to be a little bit more realistic about women being strong and independent and the fact that there's nothing wrong with that.'
Hatch, a Republican, was appointed to the bench by Governor Jan Brewer in June 2010 and elected to a full term that November.
Her seat will be up for election in 2014.
Read more: Jacqueline Hatch: Female judge APOLOGIZES for telling groping victim she brought attack on herself because she was at a BAR | Mail Online