"In denying waiver, the trial court minutely considered the circumstances of the offense, made an independent assessment of the juvenile's culpability, and considered [his] prior good character and 'the input of the victim or the victim's family,'" the appeals court judges said in their decision. "His consideration of these elements, however, sounded as if he had conducted a bench trial on the charges rather than neutrally reviewed the State's application."
The appellate judges added: "That the juvenile came from a good family and had good test scores we assume would not condemn the juveniles who do not come from good families and do not have good test scores from withstanding waiver applications."
According to court documents, the allegations against the suspect stem from an incident at a 2017 house party. Prosecutors said both the boy and girl were drunk when he filmed himself sexually assaulting her, The New York Times reported. He also showed the video to his friends and wrote in a text message: "[W]hen your first time having sex was rape," authorities said.
When he denied the waiver, Troiano said the allegations didn't constitute "the traditional case of rape."
"There were generally two or more generally males involved, either at gunpoint or weapon, clearly manhandling a person," he said of previous rape cases, according to the Washington Post.
Critics blasted Troiano, who "retired several years ago but was brought back to hear certain family court cases," ABC News reported.
"He's already retired; otherwise, we would be making calls for him to be let go," Anjail Mehrotra, president of the state's National Organization for Women chapter, told ABC News.
After the appeals court ruling, the case was returned to Monmouth County, where prosecutors could pursue a criminal trial.