Another former college student convicted of sexual assault, Austin James Wilkerson, has gotten off with an almost unbelievably light sentence. This time, the case was handled in the state of Colorado, and the defendant was officially convicted of “one count of sexual assault of a helpless victim and one count of unlawful sexual contact.”
Despite his May conviction, Austin James Wilkerson’s sexual assault sentence won’t include any real prison time, reports CNN.
How did the former University of Colorado student manage to get off with such a light slap on the wrist? According to reports, Patrick Butler, the judge in the case, felt like Wilkerson was deserving of work release. And of spending his nights in the Boulder County Jail rather than in the state prison. In fact, Austin James Wilkerson will only be subjected to a work release-stunted incarceration sentence for two years, which means that he will be free to leave the Colorado jail facility for work and/or school during that time period.
Wilkerson’s sexual assault sentence also includes two decades of probation, treatment, and therapy. He will also have to register as a sex offender, but after 20 years, Wilkerson will have the chance to have his name removed.
According to the judge in the case, Austin James Wilkerson’s sexual assault sentence was appropriate for the crime he committed. In fact, the Probation Department in Colorado recommended that the 22-year-old former student receive no prison time at all. The reason? Apparently, Wilkerson is really sorry for sexually assaulting a black-out-drunk school acquaintance in 2014.
The district attorney in the case wanted to see Wilkerson do four- to 12-years in state prison for the sexual assault, which was by all accounts very much contrived and well thought-out. The judge in the case opted to split the difference, but not really right down the middle.
Deputy District Attorney Lisa Saccomano told the court that Austin James Wilkerson appeared very calculated over the course of the 2014 sexual assault. He reportedly knew his victim from high school, and when the young woman got too drunk to tend to herself at a party, he offered to take her home and keep her safe. However, when he managed to get the victim alone, Austin James Wilkerson sexually assaulted the highly-inebriated woman. During his sexual assault, he even texted a friend of his victim to let her know know she was okay. According to the DA, his pattern of behavior leading up to and during the sexual assault was “highly deceptive” and “manipulative.”
@xeni We need to keep prison space open for marijuana users, protesters and black motorists who don't change their DL address w.i 10 days.— Gregg (@NutBallCop) August 11, 2016
The judge said: "I've struggled with the idea of, 'Do I put him in prison?'"— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 11, 2016
His family said the crime was a “traumatic incident” for him.
Reportedly, Wilkerson changed his story repeatedly over the course of the investigation. When his semen was found on the victim, he told investigators it was because he had “masturbated” and “ejaculated into the toilet.” According to the convicted sex offender, his sexual assault victim came into contact with his semen from using the restroom.
Despite the judge’s decision to sentence Wilkerson to next-to-no jail time following his sexual assault conviction, victim’s advocates and others are crying foul. Austin James Wilkerson is being compared to Brock Turner, the now-notorious “Stanford rapist,” who was sentenced to mere months after being caught with his pants down, in the act of raping an unconscious coed behind a dumpster. The outrage over the Brock Turner sentencing was so extreme that hundreds of thousands of angry constituents have signed a petition to have the judge in the case recalled.
As The Daily Camera reports, locals and folks the world over are showing equal outrage over the sentencing of Austin James Wilkerson for his sexual assault conviction.
Under Colorado law, Wilkerson could have been sentenced to up to a dozen years for his Class Three felony sexual assault; he could even have been kept in prison until he was “deemed fit” to re-enter society.
Despite having the option to keep the convicted sex offender off of the street for at least the foreseeable future, and despite the sentencing guidelines handed down by the district attorney, the judge in the case infuriated the public by sentencing the convicted sex offender almost as lightly as possible.
The Attorney General of Colorado took to social media to speak out on the Austin James Wilkerson sentencing. Cynthia Coffman sent the following message, via her Twitter account.
“No prison time for sexual assault sends a terrible message. My thoughts are with the victim.”
Prosecutors in the case are livid, too, but hoping that the attention that the case is getting will prompt judges to hand out harsher sentences in future sexual assault cases.
“I hope it continues to snowball. I do believe the community getting involved and having its voice heard is helpful. That gives us as prosecutors ammunition to argue to the court in sentencing that a harsher punishment is necessary to promote respect for the law.”
What do you think about the sentencing? Are we looking at “Boulder’s Brock Turner,” as one media outlet has dubbed the convicted Colorado sex offender? Or do you think that the judge was fair in the Austin James Wilkerson Sexual Assault sentencing?
[Photo via Boulder County Colorado Sheriff’s Department]