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Austin Clem, who was convicted of raping a teenager and given a sentence allowing him to avoid prison time.
Austin Clem
Austin Smith Clem raped Courtney Andrews twice when she was 14 and once when she was 18. A jury convicted him of one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape, yet despite sentencing guidelines calling for decades in prison, Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof gave Clem a sentence that will let him avoid prison time for the rapes. Woodroof theoretically sentenced Clem to 40 years, but:
... structured the sentence in such a way that Clem will only be hit with community corrections and probation. Clem will have to register as a sex offender and pay fines and restitution—a total of $2,381, according to the sentencing document provided to Mother Jones—but he will not serve jail time unless he violates the terms of his sentencing.
If you're thinking this is a gross miscarriage of justice, though, be at ease. Dan Totten, Clem's defense attorney, would like to assure you that it's not a slap on the wrist. His words, not mine:
"It would seem to be relatively mild," Totten tells Mother Jones. "But [Clem's] lifestyle for the next 6 years is going to be very controlled…If he goes to a party and they're serving beer, he can't say, 'Can I have one?' If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is 8 or 9 miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can't do that…It's not a slap on the wrist."
Oh, wow. I didn't realize he couldn't have a beer at a party for six whole years because he raped a teenager three times! That changes everything. From that perspective, the sentence looks almost unduly harsh, dontcha think?

The defense attorney and the judge are childhood friends, but Totten says that probably didn't affect the sentence. Though it's an open question whether you'd rather have a judge who keeps child-rapists out of jail because he's friends with the defense attorney or one who just doesn't think raping a teen is a crime worth any prison time. Either way, Courtney Andrews reasonably enough describes herself as "livid."

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 07:20 AM PST.

Also republished by This Week in the War on Women and Daily Kos.

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