An Alabama man convicted of raping his former neighbor and friend found out Wednesday that he won’t be going to prison for the crime, according to AL.com, an Alabama Media Group blog.
Austin Smith Clem, 25, was found guilty of three counts of rape (one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape) in September. However, on Nov. 13, Judge James Woodroof ordered Clem to spend two years in a reform program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years on probation, according to the official court order from the Limestone County Circuit Court. Clem will also have to register as a sex offender.
Woodroff’s decision reportedly stunned Chief Deputy District Attorney Jim Ayers, who apparently leapt to his feet exclaiming, “This isn’t legal. It’s not a legal sentence,” as described to AL.com. The report notes that according to the Code of Alabama, first-degree rape sentences range from 10 to 99 years in prison, while second-degree rape ranges from two to 10 years.
The victim told Al.com that she is “livid” about the decision. She was raped by Clem twice when she was 14, and once when she was 18. The woman urged the judge to reconsider, particularly because Clem has three young daughters, the report notes.
Despite the victim’s protests, the defense maintains the decision is appropriate, in light of the case. Dan Totten, Clem’s defense attorney, told Mother Jones the sentence is “not a slap on the wrist” and noted that Clem’s life will be very restricted for the next six years, two of which he’ll spend in the Limestone County Community Corrections Plan. The reform program is intended to provide the “diversion of non-violent offenders from the penitentiary,” according to its website.
Clem isn’t the only rape convict to be given a relatively light sentence in recent days. As the Los Angeles Times reported this week, 45-year-old California soccer coach Timothy Lyman was sentenced to just one year of jail time after pleading no contest to raping one of his players while she was drunk and unconscious. Under California law, the minimum sentence for raping a minor is seven years. The light sentence was the result of a plea deal.
The wide range of sentencing that we have been seeing lately is unbelievable.