Convicted rapist Austin Wilkerson faced anywhere from four years to life in prison. Judge Patrick Butler of Boulder, Colo. sentenced him to a two-year jail sentence and 20 years of probation Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported that day. Wilkerson was a student at the University of Colorado-Boulder when the crime occurred.
Wilkerson told an intoxicated freshman’s friends that he would look after her, according to prosecutors. But rather than looking after her, he raped the student. He propositioned the victim beforehand, he told investigators. Wilkerson told a jury that the activity was consensual. His defense maintained that the victim’s rape claim was an attempt to explain a drop in her grades. The jury convicted him of sexual assault of a helpless victim and unlawful sexual contact.
“Mr. Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated,” Judge Butler said.
Wilkerson’s supporters asked Judge Butler to be lenient. “He will go far in this world if not defined by this one incident,” they said. Probation officers assigned to Wilkerson after his conviction told the court he seemed remorseful. He will spend two years in jail, allowed out during the day for work or school. He also received twenty years on probation and must register as a sex offender.
The victim, the prosecution and many in the community were outraged. “Have as much mercy for the rapist as he did for me that night,” the victim said at Wilkerson’s sentencing, the Daily Camera reported Wednesday. Brie Franklin, the executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, argued that it prioritized the perpetrator over the victim. District Attorney Stanley Garnett protested the sentence in a memo to the court.
“It is objectively offensive to consider as ‘punishment enough’ the fact that the defendant will have to pursue a career as a biochemist instead of as a medical doctor. Rapists go to prison. This is what justice requires,” Garnett said.
Lead image credit: Wally Gobetz on Flickr.