Man Who Pleaded Guilty To Raping Four Teenage Girls Walks Free After Judge Rules Jail Time Would Be ‘Inappropriate’
A Lewiston, NY, man who pleaded guilty to the rape and sexual assault of four teenage girls won’t serve prison time after a New York state judge said time behind bars would be inappropriate, local ABC affiliate WKBW reports.
According to court documents cited by the station, 20-year-old Christopher Belter entered a plea deal in late 2019 in which he agreed to plead guilty to four counts of rape and sexual abuse.
The charges stem from four separate incidents in 2017 and 2018 in Lewiston, New York. All the victims were under 18 at the time, the documents state.
Belter was placed on interim probation for two years with limits on his internet use and access to pornography, the documents state. But he violated the terms of his probation, WKBW reported.
Judge Murphy issued a sentence of eight years of probation and ruled Belter must register as a sex offender – but said prison time would be inappropriate.
“I agonized. I’m not ashamed that to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain. There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case,” Judge Murphy said, according to WKBW. “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”
One of Belter’s victims said she was deeply disappointed over the lighter-than-expected punishment.
“The judge had the opportunity to put out the fire but he chose to let it keep burning,” she 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 very powerful and emotional statements of the victims and the fact that Christopher Belter was already given a shot at interim probation and failed, my office has been very clear that we believed a prison sentence was entirely appropriate in this case,” he said.
‘It’s a miscarriage of justice,’ another victim said.
Jane Doe, a 19-year-old college student who was assaulted by Belter in 2017, said she was in a state of disbelief when her dad called her to tell her the news.
“I kind of just went silent,” she said. “ I just couldn’t believe it.”
Read the full report on ABC’s WKBW 7 News.
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