Another judge has handed down a light sentence to a young man charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent battery and assault after raping two of his high school classmates while they were asleep.
David Becker, an 18-year-old from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to counts of indecent assault and battery of a person older than 14. Despite the district attorney’s request that he serve two years in jail, Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes sentenced Becker to two years of probation. If he does not violate the terms of his probation, which include not contacting the victims and abstaining from drugs and alcohol, all charges against him will be dismissed and he will not have to register as a sex offender.
After a house party in April, the two victims went to sleep in an upstairs bedroom, at which time Becker entered the room and penetrated both women with his fingers as they slept. Both young women woke to Becker sexually assaulting them. The next day he sent a text message to one of the victims apologizing for raping her.
“It’s really discouraging when everyone in the process does their job and…then you see a sentence like this,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
ABC News reports that Berkowitz “said the judge’s decision in this case is probably ‘discouraging for the victims’ and likely ‘deters other people from reporting their crimes’ and putting themselves through this entire criminal justice process’ because they will wonder, ‘Is it worth it?’”
This ruling sparked national upset as many see similarities between Becker’s light sentence and those of other privileged white male college athletes, which advocates state downplays the severity of sexual assault and its emotional and physical repercussions for victims.
A petition aimed at removing Judge Thomas Estes from his position has over 33,000 signatures.