Man who raped four teenagers gets no jail time, judge says: ‘Incarceration isn’t appropriate’
A New York man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse for assaulting four teenage girls during parties at his parents’ home will not face jail time after a judge on Tuesday sentenced him to eight years probation.
Niagara County Court Judge Matthew Murphy said he “agonized” over the case of 20-year-old Christopher Belter, who was accused of committing the crimes when he was 16 or 17. Belter pleaded guilty in 2019 to a series of felony charges that included third-degree rape and attempted first-degree sexual abuse, as well as two misdemeanor charges of second-degree sexual abuse.
Although Belter faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, Murphy concluded that jail time for the man “would be inappropriate” in a ruling that shocked the courtroom.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain. There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case,” Murphy said, according to WKBW. “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”
Belter, of Lewiston, N.Y., will have to register as a sex offender as part of his sentence. Murphy told Belter in court that the probation sentence would be “like a sword hanging over your head for the next eight years.” The judge did not elaborate on why he did not impose jail time.
Steven Cohen, an attorney for one of the victims, denounced the judge’s sentencing, saying to reporters on Tuesday, “Justice was not done here.” He told The Washington Post on Wednesday that his client, who was joined by some of the other victims in the courtroom, was “deeply disappointed” in the sentencing.