Teen Gets Probation In Sexual Assault Case So He Can Go To College

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A Massachusetts high school athlete accused of raping two classmates has been sentenced to two years probation, after his defense attorney argued that jail time “would have destroyed this kid’s life.”

David Becker, 18, was sentenced to probation on August 15 for assaulting and digitally penetrating two unconscious women at a party in April, according to CBS-affiliate Western Mass News. Though he had been charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault, he pleaded to lesser charges of indecent assault and battery of a person older than age 14. If he completes his probation without any violations, no conviction will appear on his record, and he will not have to register as a sex offender.

Becker’s attorney, Thomas Rooke, told MassLive that the goal of the sentence was to allow his client to continue to college and lead a productive life.

"The goal of this sentence was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life, which is a college experience,” Rooke said.

"We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn't be branded for life with a felony offense and branded a sex offender," he said. "Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid's life." Rooke did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment on the case.

Judge Thomas Estes said in court that the fact that one of the two survivors reportedly said she did not want to see Becker in jail lent weight to his decision.

“There's a spectrum for the nature of the offense, and I think given Mr. Becker's position in life, to find him guilty at this point would slam a lot of doors,” Estes said. He added that there were significant “collateral consequences” associated with simply being charged.

The case is drawing attention for its similarity to a number of other highly publicized sexual assault cases in which the punishments were criticized. In June, former Stanford University athlete Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster, and earlier this month, a University of Colorado student was given two years of work release after a similar conviction.

Advocacy groups are condemning the sentence. Karin Roland, the chief campaigns officer for UltraViolet, told Reuters that the decision was “an example of rape culture at work.”

"Judge Estes was more concerned with the rapist's long-term well-being than with justice for the survivors,” she said.

An online petition calling for Estes' removal from the bench had more than 16,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.
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