Christopher Belter: No prison sentence for man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual assault on four teenage girls


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Christopher Belter, now 20, entered into a plea deal in 2019 in which he agreed to plead guilty to attempted first-degree sexual abuse, third-degree rape and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse. degree, according to court documents.

The charges stem from four separate incidents in 2017 and 2018 in Lewiston, New York, according to the documents. He and the victims were all under 18 at the time.

Belter was placed on provisional probation for two years with limits on his internet use and access to pornography, the documents said.

But he violated the terms of his probation, according to court documents. Judge Matthew J. Murphy denied him juvenile status and ruled that he would be sentenced as an adult, according to the documents.

Last Tuesday, Judge Murphy handed down an eight-year probation sentence and ruled Belter should register as a sex offender, but said jail time would be inappropriate.

“I am in agony. I am not ashamed to say that I actually prayed to know what the appropriate sentence is in this matter because there has been great pain. There has been great harm. There were several crimes committed in the case, “Judge Murphy said, according to WKBW, subsidiary of CNN. “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration is not appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”

A protection order was also issued on the first count.

Lighter-than-expected sentence for Belter resembles criticism of the sexual assault case of Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was sentenced to six months in prison by Judge Aaron Persky for raping an adult woman. Voters in Santa Clara County, California then recalled Persky due to outrage over the sentence.
Judge Murphy is set to retire next month at the mandatory retirement age of 70, according to WKBW.

Belter’s attorney, Barry Covert, declined to comment. Prior to sentencing, Belter read a statement to victims in the case.

“Through the treatment and reflection, I have come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions. None of you deserved to be in this situation,” he said. “I hope each of you can heal this wound that I cut.

“I know, however, that there will remain a scar that will remind us of the pain of that night,” he added.

Victim “MM” spoke in court in August

One of Belter’s victims spoke about the incident during a court hearing. The girl, identified as MM, was 16 in August 2018 when Belter raped her and “told her to stop being such a baby,” according to court documents. She told the court that she focused on a plant in her bedroom “as she cried during the attack”.

“I wish I had a louder voice at the start of it all. Maybe I could have done more. This 16 year old girl was a little too confident that justice would have been done. She was worried if she spoke up. harder she would hurt even more and hurt other people along the way. She had just assumed all rapists were going to jail. She missed opportunities to speak out that she was not even aware of. Let people do their jobs, don’t we, “she told the court.

“But today I am older. Today I know that I am able to speak for myself without interference, without people telling me what to say and what not to say. So I stand in front of you. to ask you now not to let this be the end, not to let this rapist walk away from two years of probation with a clean slate. I am asking you because you have the capacity to save future girls. You have the possibility either to extinguish this fire or to let it continue to burn. “

Steve Cohen, the lawyer for one of Belter’s victims, said his client was deeply disappointed with the sentence and threw up in the bathroom afterward.

MM tell WKBW she was “disgusted” by the condemnation.

“The judge had the opportunity to put out the fire but he chose to let it continue to burn,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be as emotional as I was, but I just broke.”

Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman also criticized the lack of jail time in the sentence.

“Based on the gravity of these crimes, the very powerful and moving statements from the victims and the fact that Christopher Belter has already been granted interim probation and failed, my office has been very clear that we believe that ‘a prison sentence was very appropriate. in this case, “he said.

“It’s a miscarriage of justice,” says another victim

Jane Doe, a 19-year-old college student who was assaulted by Belter in 2017, told CNN she was in a state of disbelief when her father called her to break the news.

“I just became silent,” she said. “He asked me if I could hear him. I just couldn’t believe it. After he spoke to me for a while, I sort of absorbed what he was saying and I started to get sick. ”

When asked why she thought Judge Murphy made the decision he made, Doe replied that she didn’t know because the decision made no sense to her.

“My legal point is that I don’t really have an answer, I feel like I’ve been misrepresented and it’s a miscarriage of justice. In my heart, unfortunately, I think he (the Judge Murphy) sympathized with Christopher, and it’s really a sick idea to have to imagine. ”

Doe was especially disheartened when she heard in the media that Murphy said he prayed for this decision and that as a long-time Christian she “found it hard to believe that they were praying to the same God. “.

“Knowing that someone used God’s name to rationalize such a sick decision broke my heart, that somehow Judge Murphy’s decision he made was appropriate because he prayed, “she said.

After her experience with this case over the past few years, she said she believed the criminal justice system was “beyond corruption” and was not protected by the laws that currently exist. Above all, she believes that these laws mean nothing to the privileged people who are able to manipulate and abuse the system for their benefit.

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