He's off the hook because the judge felt bad he would have to become a biochemist instead of a medical doctor now …
Another day, another Brock Turner.
Another privileged white man convicted of rape who gets let off the hook because his unspeakable cruelty "shouldn't define him."
The fact that it's in Boulder, in our own backyard, makes no difference.
It's the same story regardless of the characters.
Boy meets girl. Boy calls girl a "fucking bitch." Boy rapes girl. Boy is swiftly convicted of raping girl. Boy gets let off the hook with some menial work service or probational bullshit that sends the message to rapists everywhere that "It's fine to rape! You just might have to pick up some trash by the side of the road!"
No jail, no justice.
Former CU-Boulder student Austin Wilkerson is the latest person to play the starring role in this tired scene. He was at a party in March of 2014 when he saw a girl he wanted to fuck. She didn't feel mutually. She rebuffed him. This pissed him off. He admittedly called her the aforementioned "fucking bitch" at the party. But she'd been drinking, so Wilkerson told her friends he'd 'take care of her.' Instead, he took her to a secluded place and raped her as she drifted helplessly in and out of consciousness.
When she recovered, she filed a lawsuit against him.
Wilkerson lied and told the jury the sex they'd had was consensual. He said she filed a rape claim against him to cover up a drop in her grades.
His lie didn't hold up. At 22, he was convicted of sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact. At the time of his conviction, he faced a possible prison sentence of four years to life. But at his sentencing, a judge in Boulder gave him the unthinkably pathetic punishment of 2 years of work release and 20 years probation.
No jail time. No suffering. No nothing.
Why? According to Judge Patrick Butler, the man who handed down this sentence:
“I’ve struggled, to be quite frank, with the idea of, ‘Do I put him in prison?' I don’t know that there is any great result for anybody. Mr. Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated.”
Read that quote. And again, if you have to.
Let's find out whether he "can or cannot be rehabilitated"? What does Judge Butler think the consequences of "cannot" are? Sixty percent of rapists rape again, so we think a pretty "great result" for everybody would be to take a convicted rapist off the streets where they can't fuck up more people's lives. It's nearly unimaginable that someone could show such little regard for rape victims, current or future.
Oh, and we're sorry you had to "struggle," with this decision, Judge Butler. It must have been hard for you.
… Almost as hard as getting fucking raped.
Another day, another rapist valued over his victim.
It's an eerie echo not just to this year's highly controversial Brock Turner case, but also to the criminal justice system's continual failings when it comes to finding justice and peace for the victims of rape. It's not just the Turners and Wilkersons of this country who get let off the hook though — only 3 percent of rapists ever see any sort of punishment for their crime.
“We are disappointed to see, yet again, that the impact on the perpetrator, who chose to commit a crime against another person, is being considered over the impact on the victim, who did not have a choice in the matter,” Brie Franklin of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault told The Huffington Post.
And of that perpetrator? All this has been a "traumatic incident" for him, Wilkerson's friends and family say. In fact, they say this rape conviction has greatly inconvenienced him because he will now have to become a "biochemist instead of a medical doctor."
"He will go far in this world if not defined by this one incident," they said in a plea for leniency. "He is remorseful." This kid is literally being pitied because he'll have to make less hundreds of thousands of dollars in his adulthood? His bright future as a post-rapist is what's getting him off the hook? It's not a lack of physical evidence or a non-admission of guilt in this case that's responsible for Wilkerson's sentencing; it's his future, which doesn't even exist yet.
Fuck that. No, really, fuck that.
This incident should define him for his entire life. It's not like he accidentally ran over someone's cat; he willingly raped someone. He willingly affected the rest of his victim's life. Why should he walk away unscathed save for a hypothetical career change he'd probably have made anyway?
And finally, most importantly, what about Wilkerson's victim? Is anyone listening to her? Did she not experience trauma by being raped while unconscious? Is her future not affected by that trauma? Is being sexually assaulted not a federally punishable "inconvenience," one worth just a teensy bit more than the "inconvenience" of a biochemical career?
Hers is the voice we need to be listening to. Not Wilkerson's parents, not his friends, not some lobotomized county judge — hers. Her voice is what will make a difference. And kudos to her for having the strength and bravery to go through this. Even if her rapist is still out on the streets, thanks to her, everyone knows he's a rapist.
There's no doubt that the way our country handles rape is not only ineffective, but designed to minimize justice for the victim. So, what is there to do? Like we mentioned in our Brock Turner piece, "Be mad. Get upset. Voice anger. Every single day until something happens. If not, Brock Turner gets a new beginning; and so does every Brock Turner after that."
“If more than a quarter of people in this community were killed by a drunk driver, or assaulted or menaced during an invasion of their home, the community would call for a stronger message than a sentence of probation with no punitive sanction to effectuate respect for the law, the deterrence of crime, and the protection of the public,” District Attorney Stanley Garnett wrote of the incident. “Sexual assault should be no different. Murderers go to prison. Armed robbers go to prison. Rapists go to prison. This is what justice requires.”
Here's to hoping street justice works out better than criminal justice in Wilkerson's case. We'll keep our eyes peeled for him on the streets of Boulder …