Convicted Child Rapist Gets Sentence That Shocked Even His Defense Attorney
Nov. 16, 2013 10:13pm Dave Urbanski
During the sentencing of a man convicted of raping a minor, an Alabama judge at first did what everybody in the courtroom suspected.
Limestone County (Ala.) Judge James Woodroof handed down jail terms of 20 years for forcible rape and 10 years each for two second-degree rape charges to run concurrently for Austin Clem, 25.
Then Woodruff suspended those sentences, CNN reported.
Instead, he gave Clem three community corrections sentences of two years plus three years of supervised probation, to be carried out concurrently, CNN said, adding that Clem must register as a sex offender.
If he follows all the guidelines, Clem will stay out of prison, CNN reported.
“I’m still baffled,” the victim, Courtney Andrews, told CNN, after coming forward publicly to express her anger over Wednesday’s sentencing. “I don’t know how any of this is possible.”
Even Clem’s defense was shocked at first. “Frankly, I think the judge’s sentence was surprising to most everyone in the courtroom,” attorney Dan Totten told CNN.
Clem was convicted of one count of forcible rape and two counts of second-degree rape connected to attacks that occurred when Andrews was a minor.
“Honestly, I didn’t understand when I first heard the sentence,” said Andrews, now 20. “I was expecting him to spend a long time in prison.” She recalled abuse that began when she was 13 and stated she didn’t report it for years because of threats, Andrews said.
“I was hurt for a long time,” she said. “I had to grow up at a very, very young age, and I know what it’s like to have your life threatened and that no one will understand me.”
Woodroof did not return CNN’s calls Friday to explain his ruling.
More from CNN:
During the sentencing phase of the trial, prosecutors offered evidence that Clem had participated in a rehabilitation program for sex offenders when he was a teen.
Clem’s attorney confirmed his client’s history.
“(Clem) did go through a program. He was sent to the Department of Youth Services for a sex abuse case that occurred when he was well under 15-years-old,” said Totten.
Regardless of Clem’s past troubles, from Totten’s point of view the sentence was too harsh.
“This is a case with two sides to the coin,” Totten said. “There are two sides. The evidence was not clear and convincing.”
The lawyer says Clem is considering an appeal on the conviction. He has 30 days from the sentencing to do so.
As the sentence stands, the requirements for community corrections are so stringent that they are in effect a form of house arrest, Totten said.
“It sets a bar so high, I don’t know of a lot of people who could abide by these limitations,” he said.
According to Clem’s attorney, the relationship with Andrews was consensual, CNN reported; Andrews, however, maintains that as a minor she could not legally consent to anything.
Here’s a report from CNN: