Imagine that the man you accused of repeatedly raping you is found guilty, but receives no jail time. Even worse, the judge tells you that it is your job to “forgive him.”
The reason? You were married to him throughout all of the assaults.
That is the reality for Mandy Boardman, an Indiana woman who has just learned that her husband David Wise, whom she has since divorced, will receive no prison time and instead will only get eight years of “home detention” despite being found guilty of both rape and five felony counts of “criminal deviate conduct.” Wise drugged and raped Boardman multiple times while she was unconscious, accusations that were backed up with video found on his cell phone recording some of the incidents.
Despite the conviction and the agreement by the jury that Wise was guilty, the sentencing judge offered Wise a decidedly lenient punishment of 20 years, 12 suspended, and the last eight as home monitoring, with a GPS tracker and orders to stay at home. Each of the rape and felony conduct counts came with a potential for 6 to 20 years of jail.
Even worse, the judge seemed to have more advice for the victim than the attacker. “During the reading of the sentence, the judge looked at me before he gave the final decision,” Boardman told the Indianapolis Star. “I was told that I needed to forgive my attacker and move on. I received zero justice on Friday.”
There is little doubt that Wise did indeed commit the crimes he was charged with. According to the L.A. Times, not only did he do it, but he was well aware that it was assault and wrong. “I was taking advantage of you in your sleep and you kept coming to me and telling me it was NOT ok,” Wise wrote in an email to Boardman before she went to the police, according to the Times. “I needed to stop.” He even admitted during testimony that he drugged her repeatedly because “She was snippy and it made her nicer when he drugged her,” according to the prosecution’s report.
Boardman knew it was assault, Wise knew it was assault, the jury knew it was assault, the prosecution, who asked for Wise to serve 40 years in jail, knew it was assault. In fact, the only person who seems not to have thought it was that big of a deal was the judge who decided on the sentence.
That in itself is a terrifying idea, that a judge, who is responsible for administering justice, could see nothing that remarkable in a man taking repeated advantage of his own spouse, his partner and equal whom he is supposed to love above all others, a partnership built upon, among other things, trust. Yet the Marion Superior Court judge who refused to put Wise in prison is only following the precedent set by a number of far right conservatives who believe that when it comes to marriage, consent is a given, regardless of any situation or sexual activity, and that it is simply impossible to rape your wife.
The dismissive sentence and the judge’s own words aren’t just a slap in the face to Boardman, however. They also are an unfortunate message to any wife, girlfriend or partner that even if her rapist is found guilty, there may not be any justice. That’s a message that could rightfully discourage some victims from even bothering to seek prosecution, and it’s the reason why Boardman has decided to go public about what has happened to her, both Wise’s crimes and the judge’s dismissal of the seriousness of the acts.
“I want it to be known that what happened was wrong,” Boardman said in a video interview with the Indystar after the lenient sentence was revealed. “Yet I still want women to feel that if this is happening to you, you need to come forward and let somebody know that this is happening and this is not okay. I want to put a face to this and let them know that there is a normal person out here who has gone through this same thing and is there for support.”
Slap on the wrist sentences are little more than a judge’s subtle acknowledgement that he or she believes that sexual assault, especially with a spouse, is not a true crime. Without real penalties, women will grow more cautious about coming forward, believing there is no justice waiting for them in the courtroom.
Saying “I do” does not equal irrevocable consent to sex, and the relationship between an attacker and victim should have no bearing on the severity of a crime. A woman was drugged, and someone had sex with her repeatedly without her permission. That should always be a crime, whether in involves strangers or spouses.
Please sign and share the petition demanding that David Wise receive a punishment fitting his crimes.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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