The New York Times, of all things, has a story today about the violent rape of a young teenage girl (the defendant did not contest it and pleaded guilty), followed by a sentence of zero imprisonment. But not to worry — the judge determined that incarceration for Mr. Nicey was “not appropriate” after “praying” about it.
I am not making this up. Indeed, I don’t have to make it up, since it has a good deal in common with the notorious Stanford rape case about which that same NYT was kind enough to print my op-ed, see here. Still, in the Stanford case, at least the rapist got a token jail sentence. I guess New York is more “enlightened.” Criminal justice reform, dontcha know.
Here are some of the details from the NYT:
The girl was 16 when Christopher Belter raped her, according to court documents. He was a teenager too, a student at an elite private boys school whose family’s western New York home was known as a party house where teens gathered to consume liquor, marijuana and Adderall.
Look, a little pot, a bit of Adderall — it’s harmless (or so we are relentlessly told). Legalize it all! Enough of this stodgy Puritanism.
This week, Mr. Belter, 20, was sentenced in the assault on M.M. and in sexual attacks on three other teenage girls. Facing up to eight years in prison, he was instead given eight years’ probation by a judge who said he had “agonized” over the decision.
Yes, there were three others. But the judge agonized, so not to worry.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain,” the judge, Matthew J. Murphy III of Niagara, N.Y., County Court, said at Mr. Belter’s sentencing on Tuesday…“There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case.”
Still, the judge continued, “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate.” He told Mr. Belter, who must register as a sex offender, the probation would be “like a sword hanging” over his head for the next eight years. He offered no further explanation for why the sentence did not include prison time.
God forbid that Mr. Belter be given something resembling an incentive not to do it again — at least not to do it again for eight years. I guess he can resume when he’s in his late twenties. He should still have a good engine then, as it were.
Steven M. Cohen, a lawyer for M.M., said late Wednesday that M.M. was “deeply disappointed” by Judge Murphy’s decision….“My client threw up in the ladies room following the sentencing…”
But, as the sentencing reform crowd always reminds us, she’ll get over it! (This the same crew that was bellowing yesterday and will be bellowing tomorrow about how they’re the ones who care about violence against women).
The most astonishing, and disgusting, part of the story is buried many column inches down:
After initially being accused of more serious crimes in the four attacks, the younger Mr. Belter resolved the charges [two years ago] by agreeing in 2019 to plead guilty to third-degree rape, attempted sexual abuse and two misdemeanors, court filings show.
A different judge gave Mr. Belter, who was 16 and 17 at the time of his crimes, an interim sentence of two years’ probation. The sentence offered him the chance, if he met its terms, of being treated as a youthful offender when his final sentence was decided — reducing, or even eliminating, any potential prison term and allowing him to avoid registering as a sex offender.
In explaining the sentence at the time, according to court records, the judge, expressed doubts about whether Mr. Belter could abide by its conditions. Her skepticism turned out to be warranted.
So the rapist was a repeat customer. He was given the much-fabled “second chance” — a chance he had done nothing to earn — and, as is so often the case with criminals given unearned leniency, cashed in at the expense of the next victim.
And here’s the kicker:
Judge Murphy explicitly cited Mr. Belter’s violation of [one of the terms in the earlier, probationary sentence] in [his] decision, which made the sentence handed down Tuesday especially galling to Mr. Cohen.
“There were absolutely no consequences” for Mr. Belter’s violations of the earlier probation terms, Mr. Cohen said. That, he added, gave him little confidence Mr. Belter “would suffer any consequences at all for future violations of the terms of probation.”
We are often told by the sentencing reform crowd that leniency will make us safer. I have two observations. First, this is just flat-out false. Over the last five or six years, as the sentencing reform agenda has gained more subscription around the country, the murder rate has surged like never before, and the number of murders is thousands above what it was over the same period before the reform agenda got traction, see this table. And most murder victims are black — a fact the reformers very much like to keep behind the curtain.
My second observation is nastier but unavoidable at this point. It’s not just that the sentencing reform folks aren’t telling the truth when they say that we’ll be safer with their agenda. It’s that they don’t care whether we’re safer or not. Their program is not about safety and never was. It’s about pushing their view that America (make that “Amerika”) is an uncaring, punitive country of nativist wahoos, and that what’s needed is to correct its vicious injustices no matter what the price. If the price is that more blood is to run in the streets — or more high school girls get raped without consequence — so be it.
For its centuries of sinfulness, Amerika has it coming. This is what they (or those of them who are driving the ideological train) actually think, and it’s time to say so out loud.