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Alabama Man Won't Serve Prison Time for Raping 14-Year-Old


Society & Culture  (tags: abuse, americans, children, crime, culture, dishonesty, law, news, police, politics, Rape, rights, safety, society, violence, women )

Kit
- 256 days ago - motherjones.com
Austin Smith Clem raped a teenager three times. His punishment: supervision and probation.



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Kit B. (277)
Friday November 15, 2013, 5:58 am
Photo: Courtesy of Athens, Alabama Police Department


An Alabama man convicted of raping a teenage girl will serve no prison time. On Wednesday, a judge in Athens, Alabama, ruled that the rapist will be punished by serving two years in a program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years of probation.

In September, a jury in Limestone County, in north central Alabama, found Austin Smith Clem, 25, guilty of raping Courtney Andrews, a teenage acquaintance and his then-neighbor, three times—twice when she was 14, and again when was she was 18.

Clem's defense attorney did not call any witnesses at trial, according to AL.com. After less than two hours of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts against Clem on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape.

According to Clem's sentencing order, which Brian Jones, the Limestone County district attorney, provided to Mother Jones, Clem will serve the first half of his sentence under the supervision of the Limestone County community corrections program. The program is aimed at "redirecting the lives" of nonviolent, low-level offenders who are "likely to maintain a productive and law-abiding life as a result of accountability, guidance and direction to services they need," according to the program's website.

Andrews recalled Clem's crimes to AL.com on Thursday. When he abused her at age 14, she said, "He kept saying, 'This is OK,' and 'Don't say anything or you're going to get me in trouble," she said. Clem threatened her parents lives' if she told anyone, Andrews said. After he raped her in 2011, she had a family friend inform her parents. She couldn't bear to, she said, because "I knew it would break their hearts." That night, her parents reported Clem to the police.

Dan Totten, Clem's defense attorney, confirms that Clem is free to live at home during this time period. Jones adds that the program requires Clem to report to his corrections officer on a weekly basis.

"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."

Andrews, who is now 20 years old and a student in Mobile, told AL.com on Thursday that she was "livid," and afraid for her family as long as Clem remains out of prison. (Andrews gave AL.com permission to release her name.) "We thought justice was finally being served and although the system was very slow, it was not totally broken," her father, Richard Andrews, told AL.com. "That feeling persisted until yesterday. We were floored to hear the judge hand down such a light sentence."

Clem attacked Andrews in 2007 and in 2011, resulting in a year-long investigation by the Athens police. The first incident led to two second-degree charges of rape and two counts of sexual abuse. The first-degree rape charge stemmed from the second assault.

Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to 10 years in prison for each of the second-degree rape charges and 20 years for first-degree rape. But Woodroof 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.

On Wednesday, attorneys for the state questioned whether Clem's sentence was even legal. Andrews asked Woodroof to reconsider the sentence, she said, to no avail. "The judge still chooses to send him home to his three little girls," she said. "I don't understand that. I can't fathom that."

Totten notes that had Woorfood sent Clem to prison with that sentence, Alabama statutes would have required Clem to serve more than 20 years before he would be eligible for probation. In light of that, Totten says, a stint in community corrections was more appropriate. However, AL.com noted that Alabama statutes would have allowed Woodroof to hand down a shorter prison term.

"You didn't hear the evidence," Totten says. "The original allegation was that both of these crimes were forcible. But then you have to believe that although she was forcibly raped twice, she continued to come back and have a social relationship with Austin Clem and his family—until he told her that he was going back to his wife and child and would not have a relationship with her. And a week later he was charged. There's always two sides to the story."

Although the sentencing order states that Clem will serve two years in the community corrections program, Totten says the sentencing judge has since increased that to three years. Jones, the district attorney, says he is not aware of such a change.

Kelly Kazek, an AL.com reporter who reported on the case, says the lenient sentence took her by surprise. "I have known Jimmy Woodroof professionally for years and years and years," Kazek says of the judge. "He has always been extremely fair and unbiased. So I am very interested to hear his reasoning."

Totten notes that he and Woodroof are childhood friends who grew up down the street from one another, although Totten says he didn't feel that affected the sentence.

This summer, a Montana judge sentenced Stacey Rambold, a teacher, to 30 days in jail for repeatedly raping one of his students, who was 14 years old at the time. Rambold's victim, Cherice Moralez, committed suicide while the rape trial was ongoing. The judge, G. Todd Baugh, said that Moralez had been "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold—who was 35 years her senior—and that Moralez was "older than her chronological age." The age of consent is 16 in Montana. The case became a national controversy, with the judge apologizing for his remarks, but not the sentence.

Woodroof did not reply to requests for comment.
******

By: Molly Redden | Mother Jones Magazine |

Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau
 

Mary Tardif (12)
Friday November 15, 2013, 6:56 am
This countries legal system is going to hell in a hand basket. Rapist get a slap on the hand, murderers get five years while their victim has none! The courts are corrupt and I know this first hand and more times than one, many more!
 

Jamie Clemons (280)
Friday November 15, 2013, 8:10 am
Huh? rape is a nonviolent, low-level offender? You could have fooled me.
 

Pat B. (354)
Friday November 15, 2013, 11:12 am
This is unbelievable.!!! This does not bode well for the victims of rape and abuse with this judge, even after
the jury returned guilty verdicts against Clem on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape. Sentencing order on Clem: "The program is aimed at "redirecting the lives" of nonviolent, low-level offenders..."WTH?? Since when is RAPE a non-violent crime??? The case in Montana is also unacceptable, and that judge also gave that rapist a slap on the wrist. I don't like this at all.! Thanks, Kit for this.
 

Terrie Williams (761)
Friday November 15, 2013, 11:39 am
WTF!!!!!! Oh, wait, ALABAMA.....nevermind. They don't consider rape, of human or animal, to be a crime, let alone any just punishment. After all, it's always the victim's fault.....(yes, extremely heavy sarcasm there)

If it occurs in any RED state......it's the victim's fault and the perp will get little, IF ANY, punishment. Sux don't it.

There is no justice anymore....no...I correct myself....there is no justice if 1) you're poor or low/middle income or a minority 2) a woman of any color or income level or 3) you are a perp who happens to be white, male, high income or a corporate CEO/banster/politician/etc One type of justice for the rich aqnd another for the rest of us. Are we liking our Fascism yet?
 

SuSanne P. (181)
Friday November 15, 2013, 12:20 pm
"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."
ARE YOU FOR REAL??? What Terrie said!
Thank you Kit
 

JL A. (272)
Friday November 15, 2013, 2:09 pm
If the program is designed for nonviolent offenders it will not be expected to do anything for a violent offender--either put him in program for violent offenders or in prison if the law is supposed to mean anything
 

AniMae Chi (393)
Friday November 15, 2013, 3:01 pm
"nonviolent, low-level offenders"???????
 

Val R. (230)
Friday November 15, 2013, 3:12 pm
So well said above - love your comment Terrie hits it on the nail.
 

Kit B. (277)
Friday November 15, 2013, 3:59 pm

When a violent crime like rape is classified as a low-level non-violent crime, we do have real problems that must be addressed. It it correct to say that almost every act of rape is committed by man, and almost 50% of rapes are against men and go unreported. That a man is so shamed by our society that he dare not report an act of violence against his being, is a condemnation about us, not the victim. More women are reporting rape, and that may cease if this what is seen as justice.
 

Angelika R. (146)
Friday November 15, 2013, 4:34 pm
Poor boy, I'll send him a lottery ticket for Xmas! (no surprise here, Terrie said it all)
 

GGmaSheila D. (134)
Friday November 15, 2013, 5:08 pm
Well, Hell...that means open rapes until someone has the guts, and the balls, to teach these vermin a lesson.
Is there such a thing as penectomy??? Can I say that here?
 

Laura H. (876)
Friday November 15, 2013, 5:56 pm
This is WRONG on EVERY level....

may the law of KARMA do something-sooner rather than later- because 'human law' SUCKS.
 

A F. (130)
Friday November 15, 2013, 6:04 pm
Sick sick sick. Call/write these judges and let them know what you think about letting people off for RAPE.
 

JL A. (272)
Friday November 15, 2013, 6:21 pm
Sounds like sufficient agreement for a petition--has one been posted yet?
 

Past Member (0)
Friday November 15, 2013, 7:23 pm
"Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to 10 years in prison for each of the second-degree rape charges and 20 years for first-degree rape. But Woodroof 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."

This makes me want to puke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with Terrie too...in that, if you're not wealthy enough to buy off the judge or the crime doesn't hit the msm headlines, no one gives a shit !
 

Christine Stewart (131)
Friday November 15, 2013, 7:48 pm
It is sad that we are just as backwards as some developing countries in our response to rape.
 

Jim Phillips (3215)
Friday November 15, 2013, 8:35 pm
Unbelievable!

Rape is NOT a nonviolent, low-level offense. The judge erred badly on this case.

Penectomy is a medical term and most likely can be used here.

ty, Kit.
.
 

Dale O. (189)
Friday November 15, 2013, 8:52 pm
Rape culture being justified and reenforced by part of the legal system. This is how people think it is 'okay' to rape while shaking our heads at the lack of progress in the stopping of rape in countries such as India. Many western nations still need a reality check.
 

Arielle S. (316)
Saturday November 16, 2013, 7:00 am
And this is justice???? Clem's daddy goes hunting with the judge or what?
 

Michael Kirkby (83)
Saturday November 16, 2013, 8:59 am
Noted
 

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Saturday November 16, 2013, 8:55 pm
We can't let this stand. Pedophiles don't stop. They can't be cured. One man molested three children in the same family for over fifteen years while claiming that a seven year old seduced him. Please create petitions demanding justice. This sick creature must be put behind bars where he can't hurt anymore children! Thank you for helping to bring this injustice to light.
 

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Saturday November 16, 2013, 9:00 pm
Thank you for your comment, Terrie.
 

JL A. (272)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 7:53 am
Related Petition url:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/321/927/277/demand-prison-time-for-man-convicted-of-repeatedly-raping-14-year-old-girl/
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 9:26 am

I signed the petition but, I'm afraid it is too late for this petition. The trial is over, the sentence passed. Now we must be very active to be sure this never happens again.
 

Jim Phillips (3215)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 9:57 am
I went ahead and signed the petition above in JL's box at 7:53 am.

The judge erred badly on this case.

Mr. Austin Smith Clem, 25, should be in prison instead of doing community service.

As for the fine, Mr. Austin Smith Clem, 25, should have paid lots more money than a mere paltry of $2,381.00.
.
 

Connie O. (40)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 1:18 pm
Raping a 14 year old...non violent and no prison term?...remind me to stay out of Alabama.
 

Joanne Dixon (37)
Sunday November 17, 2013, 2:29 pm
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) is considered, after Shakespeare, the most quoted of English writers. I cannot help but think of his remarks as recorded by Boswell in A Journal of a Trip to the Hebrides concerning sentencing (by the word "prescription" he is referring to what we would now call the statute of limitations):

"If the son of the murdered man should kill the murderer who got off merely by prescription, I would help him to make his escape; thought, were I upon his jury, I would not acquit him. I would not advise him to commit such an act. On the contrary, I would bid him to submit to the determination of society, because a man is bound to submit to the inconveniences of it, as he enjoys the good: but the young man, though politically wrong, would not be morally wrong. He would have to say, 'Here I am amongst barbarians, who not only refuse to do justice, but encourage the greatest of all crimes. I am therefore in a state of nature: for, so far as there is no law, it is a state of nature: and consequently, upon the eternal and immutable law of justice, which requires that he who sheds man's blood should have his blood shed, I will stab the murderer of my father.'"

Please do not think I agree with every word of this, but it needed to be quoted in full for the context of this: "Here I am amongst barbarians, who not only refuse to do justice, but encourage the greatest of all crimes." If I were Courtney, I think this is exactly how I would feel.
 

Jim Phillips (3215)
Monday November 18, 2013, 9:19 pm
Victim says she's 'livid' rapist convicted in Limestone County will serve no jail time

Update: Appeared in the Daily Kos, Monday, November 18, 2013

http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/11/victim_says_shes_livid_rapist.html#incart_river

.
 

Angelika R. (146)
Tuesday November 19, 2013, 8:49 am
In addition to Judy's petition link on C2 this is also out TO BE SIGNED ! :
http://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/treat-sexual-assault-as-a-serious-crime/
 

Jim Phillips (3215)
Tuesday November 19, 2013, 9:24 am
CREDO PETITION in Angelika's comment box above at Nov 19 at 8:49 am signed.

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