Judge: Prison “inappropriate” for man who raped, sexually assaulted 4 girls
(CNN) - A man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse in 2019 has been sentenced to eight years of probation in New York.
Christopher Belter, 20, was sentenced to eight years probation and must register as a sex offender, but will not face prison time.
“Through treatment and reflection, I’ve come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions,” Belter said. “None of you deserved to be in this situation.”
Belter addressed the courtroom last week before his sentencing for the rape and sexual assault of four teenage girls.
“I know though, that a scar will remain that will serve as a reminder of the evil of that night,” he said.
Some of his victims were in the courtroom for his sentencing when Niagara County Court Judge Matthew Murphy handed down his sentence of 8-years probation. That means Belter won’t serve a day behind bars for the crimes that happened at his family’s Lewiston home from 2017 to 2018.
Belter was sentenced as an adult after Judge Murphy denied him youthful offender status for violating his probation by bypassing monitoring software on his computer to view pornography. But Judge Murphy decided prison time would be *inappropriate*.
“I agonized…I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case,” Judge Murphy said. “Because there was great pain. There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case.”
Attorney Steve Cohen represents one of the victims and is outraged with the sentence. Cohen says there were *zero consequences* for violating his previous probation.
“He is privileged. He comes from money. He is white,” Cohen said. “He’s being sentenced as an adult, appropriately. And for an adult to get away with these crimes without doing jail time is unjust.”
His client was clearly upset and in tears when the sentence was read.
“I believe she’s in the bathroom throwing up right now. Excuse me,” Cohen said.
During the sentencing, prosecutor Peter Wydysh told the court calling the home where the attacks occurred a *party house* was a disservice to all the victims.
“It was not a party house case, judge; it was a house of sexual assault. That is what happened there. That is not something we should look past,” Wydysh said.
Belter must follow an extensive list of probation rules that the judge says will be like a *sword* hanging over his head. He must also register as a sex offender.
He’ll be back in court on Dec. 2, 2021, for a sex offender registration act hearing. That’s where it will be decided whether he is a level one, two or three sex offender.
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