The sentence wasn’t what she had wanted, but the process of taking her case to trail was ultimately “therapeutic,” said the woman whose rapist, a fellow CU Boulder student, avoided prison this week.
In a statement released through the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office and reported by the Daily Camera, the woman, who was 18 at the time of the assault, said she hopes the sentence, while “light,” will be a deterrent.
“Although I did have to relive the trauma multiple times, I would go through this process all over again. Our goal has been to have the rapist not perpetrate again, which hopefully won’t happen even with the light sentence. We get to put a face to the 1-in-4 statistics.”
“Surprisingly, this whole ordeal has been therapeutic. I get to tell my story and not keep it bottled up. Other brave survivors’ eerily familiar stories have inspired me to share my story that rape isn’t always a stranger in the bushes. The most rewarding part of this process has been meeting the most brilliant, hardest working, funniest, most encouraging people I have ever known.”
The Camera article also has the full statement the victim made to the court. It’s a difficult but important letter that describes the far-reaching impact of the attack.
Austin Wilkerson, 22, was convicted of sexual assault on a helpless victim and unlawful sexual contact. The victim had too much to drink at a party in March 2014, and Wilkerson told her friends he would take care of her. He used that opportunity to assault her.
Wilkerson could have gone to prison for between four and 12 years, but the judge instead sentenced him to two years of work-release and 20 years of sex-offender probation. The judge said he worried that Colorado’s indeterminate sentencing law would keep Wilkerson in prison for life.
As outrage about the verdict, which recalled a similarly light sentence handed down to a Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault in California, spread around the internet, an online petition was started to recall Judge Patrick Butler.
As the Camera reports, judges in Colorado are not subject to recall.
Butler is next up for a retention vote in 2020, if people’s memories are that long.
As I wrote yesterday, Butler is not the first Colorado judge to cite indeterminate sentencing in deciding not to send a rapist to prison, and he probably won’t be the last. It’s a more complicated problem than one “bad” judge.