(Trends Wide) — A man who pleaded guilty to the rape and sexual assault of four teenagers will avoid prison after a New York State judge said spending time behind bars would be inappropriate.
Christopher Belter, now 20, pleaded guilty in 2019 to attempted first-degree sexual assault, third-degree rape and two counts of second-degree sexual assault, according to court documents.
The charges stem from four separate incidents in 2017 and 2018 in Lewiston, New York, according to the documents. He and the victims were under the age of 18 at the time.
Belter was placed on provisional probation for two years with limits on his internet use and access to pornography, according to the documents.
But he violated the terms of his probation, according to court documents. Judge Matthew J. Murphy denied him juvenile delinquency status and ruled that he would be sentenced as an adult, according to the documents.
Last Tuesday, Judge Murphy issued an eight-year probation sentence and ruled that Belter must register as a sex offender, but said spending time in prison would be inappropriate.
“I suffered a lot. I am not ashamed to say that I actually prayed about what was the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain. There was great harm. Multiple crimes were committed in the case,” Judge Murphy said, according to WKBW, affiliate. from Trends Wide. “It seems to me that a sentence involving imprisonment or partial imprisonment is not appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”
A protection order was also issued for the first count.
The lighter-than-expected punishment for Belter bears similarities to the criticisms pressed against the sexual assault case of Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was sentenced to six months in prison by Judge Aaron Persky for raping a woman. adult. Voters in Santa Clara County, California, later removed Persky due to outrage at the sentence.
Judge Murphy will retire next month at the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70, according to WKBW.
Belter’s attorney, Barry Covert, declined to comment. Before sentencing, Belter read a statement to the victims in the case.
“Through treatment and reflection, I have come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions. None of you deserved to be in this situation,” he said. “I hope that each of you can heal the wound that I made.”
“However, I know there will be a scar that will serve as a reminder of the evil of that night,” he added.
Rape victim “MM” spoke in court in August
One of Belter’s victims spoke about the incident at a court hearing. The young woman, identified as MM, was 16 years old in August 2018 when Belter raped her and “told her to stop being a baby,” court documents say. She told the court that she focused on a plant in her room “while crying during the attack.”
“I wish I had had a stronger voice at the beginning of all this. Maybe I could have done more. That 16-year-old was too confident that justice would be served. She worried that if she spoke louder, she would hurt herself even more and hurt others. people on the road. He had just assumed that all rapists go to jail. He missed opportunities to speak that he was not even aware of. Let people do their jobs, yeah right, “he told the court.
“But today I am older. Today I know that I can speak for myself without interference, without people telling me what to say and what not to say. So I come before you asking you not to let this be the end, not to let This rapist is leaving with two years of probation with a clean slate. I ask you because you have the ability to save future girls. You have the ability to put out this fire or let it continue to burn. “
Steve Cohen, an attorney for one of Belter’s victims, said his client was deeply disappointed with the sentence and threw up in the bathroom afterward.
MM told WKBW that she was “disgusted” with the sentence.
“The judge had the opportunity to put out the fire, but decided to let it stay burning,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be as emotional as I was, but I just broke down.”
Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman also criticized the lack of prison time in the sentence.
“Based on the seriousness of these crimes, the powerful and emotional statements of the victims, and the fact that Christopher Belter has already received the opportunity for parole and failed, my office has made it very clear that we believed that a prison sentence was completely appropriate in this case, “he said.
‘It’s a failure of justice,’ says another Belter victim
Jane Doe, a 19-year-old college student who was assaulted by Belter in 2017, told Trends Wide she was in a state of disbelief when her father called her with the news.
“I was silent,” he said. “He asked if I could hear him. I couldn’t believe it. After he was talking to me for a while, I took in what he was saying and started to feel bad.”
When asked why she thinks Judge Murphy made the decision she made, Doe said she doesn’t know because the decision doesn’t make any sense to her.
“My perspective legally is that I don’t really have an answer, I feel like I was misrepresented and it’s a failure of justice. In my heart, unfortunately, I think he (Judge Murphy) sympathized with Christopher, and that’s a really sick idea of imagine”.
Doe was especially discouraged when she heard in media reports that Murphy said she prayed for the decision and that, as a Christian, she has “trouble believing they pray to the same God.”
“Knowing that someone used God’s name to rationalize such an unhealthy decision broke my heart, that somehow the decision Judge Murphy made was appropriate because he prayed,” he said.
After his experience with this case in recent years, he said that he feels that the criminal justice system is “beyond corrupt” and that it is not protected by the laws that currently exist. Above all, he feels that these laws mean nothing to privileged people who can manipulate and abuse the system to their advantage.