A 22-year-old convicted campus rapist by the name of Austin Wilkerson was recently handed his sentence, and many people are outraged over the decision by Colorado Judge Patrick Butler. The judge essentially decided to ignore all the most obvious red flags of the case and sentenced the rapist to nothing but two years in a work release program along with an additional period of probation that will last 20 years.
Judge Butler heard testimony from the victim in the case, a young woman who Wilkerson assaulted while she was drunk. She pleaded with the judge to show no mercy on her assailant, whom she claimed to have rebuffed advances from during a campus party. She knew Wilkerson had a reputation for being the ‘big man’ on campus, which may point toward his reaction at her refusal of his courting. Wilkerson used severe language when dealing with the victim after she rebuked him, including calling her a ‘fucking bitch’ and saying that he was ‘pissed off’ at her attitude toward him. Judge Butler completely ignored the victim’s cries for true justice.
Judge Butler heard testimony regarding the actions of Wilkerson after the initial encounter with his victim. Instead of leaving the girl alone and returning to his home, the rapist continued to harass the young woman. He managed to separate her from her friends, and he was able to convince her friends that he would make sure she was alright. He went through the hassle of making a show of himself giving the drunk girl water and checking her pulse for good measure. Once he had the girl alone, he abandoned his polite facade and forced himself upon the girl. He raped her and then continued to lie about what happened for months. It was even proven that Wilkerson lied under oath after he heard the statement from his victim. Judge Butler completely ignored the callous nature of the rapist.
The judge was interviewed by a local news outlet after the decision, where he spoke of his struggle to decide how to punish the rapist. He felt that sending the rapist to jail would not provide ‘any great result for anybody’. He claims to have spoken to officials in the jail and prison system where Wilkerson should have been imprisoned, and those officials assured him that Wilkerson would receive extreme attention from other inmates because of the nature of his crime and his age. In other words, Judge Butler felt it was better to protect the rapist than to be sure he received the proper punishment.
The incident occurred on the campus of Colorado University at Boulder, where roughly 13,000 women attend school. Of those women, 28 percent claim to have received unwanted sexual advances ranging from general touching to rape. In the state of Colorado, the crimes of which Wilkerson was convicted carry a sentence of 4-12 years in prison, but the statute contains a clause that allows the sentence to be increased for extreme situations. That means Judge Butler released a convicted rapist to a work release program that includes no prison time when the sentence should have been at least 4 years minimum.
It is possible that the judge was affected by the numerous supporters from the rapist, all of whom claim the young man had a bright future ahead of him. One letter received by a supporter claimed that Wilkerson had suffered enough simply because of the trial itself. The fact that Wilkerson was protected by an incredible defense attorney with a hefty price tag didn’t hurt his chances either. The defense attorney was able to paint the victim in a light that made her appear at fault, which is nearly treasonous to the human spirit. This sentence is a joke, and a bad one at that, especially in a time when rapists are being given far more leniency than they deserve.