Defendant Receives 6-Month Jail Sentence for Molesting Sister

On Sept. 14, DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun sentenced a teen defendant to 6-months at the DC Jail for molesting his sister in a 2021 sex abuse case.

On the evening of Oct. 17, 2021, the mother of 19-year-old Tieyon Garnett found her son and the 9-year-old victim sitting together on the couch. Neither was wearing pants. The victim told her mother that the defendant had penetrated her anus with his “private part,” and had been touching her buttocks and vagina. 

Although Garnett initially denied these accusations, he later accepted full responsibility for sexually abusing the victim. Garnett was charged with first-degree child sex abuse on Oct. 27, 2021. 

During the Sept. 14 sentencing, the victim and her mother were called to the stand. The mother reported that Garnett’s actions have driven a wedge between their entire family with the victim was having breakdowns and lashing out daily. 

She then relayed the victim’s desire for Garnett to serve jail time. “My son deserves the consequences that will be handed to him,” Garnett’s mother told the judge. 

The mother requested a stay-away order from her daughter be imposed on Garnett. However, she did not request a similar order for herself. 

“For an adult man to have sex with any 9-year-old is one of the most reprehensible things a person can do,” the prosecutor said. He added that the incestuous nature of the act violated fundamental human principles, and called for at least one year of jail time.

Still, the prosecutor maintained that a Youth Rehabilitation Act sentence was most appropriate, considering Garnett’s young age and cooperative behavior throughout the entire legal process. He also believed that such a sentence would empower Garnett to actively work through any underlying issues that may have driven his reprehensible actions.

In response, defense attorney Quo Mieko Judkins read aloud a statement from Garnett, in which he expressed significant remorse for his actions, and wished his sibling a full emotional recovery. “I’m sorry this happened. I wish I could take it back,” Garnett wrote. “I love [the victim and I am] trying to do better.”

Judkins requested a much lighter sentence than that put forth by the prosecution. She noted Garnett’s unwavering compliance throughout all legal proceedings, as well as his lack of a prior criminal history. Judkins also emphasized Garnett’s practical efforts to get back on track, such as his commitment to graduating high school and gaining acceptance into a music program at the University of D.C.

Judkins underlined that Garnett’s harshest sentence was arguably the “scarlet letter” he would be branded with when attempting to reintegrate into society. The “sex offender” label, and the civil death accompanying it, would plague Garnett for the rest of his life, heavily impacting his future employment, housing, education, romantic, and social prospects, his attorney said. 

Judkins expressed hope that mental health treatments and counseling would address Garnett’s behavior in relation to this offense specifically, insisting that any polygraphs, GPS monitors, or substance abuse treatments would be extraneous and unnecessary. 

In Garnett’ expressed love and appreciation for his family, a desire to better himself academically and professionally, and remorse for his actions. “I’m very messed up about this,” he said.

Judge Okun acknowledged that this was a very difficult sentencing. He agreed that a youth act sentence would be appropriate, given Garnett’s compliance during pretrial release. Still, with the sheer severity of Garnett’s offense and the acute suffering he’d subjected his sibling to, Judge Okun felt that a jail-free sentence would be unjust and insufficient. 

Judge Okun sought a compromise between the two proposed sentences, settling on a suspension of 24 months including 6 months of jail time, 3 years on probation, and 90 hours of community service. 

Garnett would be required to undergo mental health evaluations and treatment and pursue a full-time job and education once released. Judge Okun mandated that Garnett register as a sex offender for the next 10 years. He also issued a stay-away order from the victim. 

Should Garnett comply with all conditions, Judge Okun assured him that his conviction would be set aside, enabling Garnett to move forward without the conviction staining his public record.

“You’re still so young,” Judge Okun told Garnett. “You’re going to have your whole life ahead of you,” continuing,”I hope that when you get out, you can be a productive member of society, and never come back to this courthouse again.”