Austin Wilkerson was convicted of both unlawful sexual contact and sexual assault of a helpless victim. That’s when Colorado Judge Patrick Butler turned justice completely upside down to keep the 22-year-old – now convicted – campus rapist out of prison for sexually assaulting a drunken girl.
Today, Judge Butler completely ignored the testimony of Wilkerson’s victim at the sentencing hearing, when she begged the judge to have as little mercy for the former “big man on campus” as he had for her. He ignored the fact that Wilkerson was furious because he had made several earlier advances, “but that she rebuffed him each time, and that he felt ‘pissed off’ and called her a ‘fucking bitch.’”
He ignored the fact that instead of going home, Wilkerson isolated the drunken girl and promised her friends he would ‘take care of’ her,’ making sure they saw him checking her pulse and giving her water. Then he discarded the Good Samaritan act, raped her, and then lied about the assault.
Austin Wilkerson even gave pathologically false testimony in court after listening to the victim’s sworn statements.
Judge Butler completely ignored the prosecutors who recommended a lengthy prison sentence, instead sending Wilkerson off to a county jail until beginning his two years of work release followed by 20 years probation. The local news reported Judge Butler as saying:
“I’ve struggled, to be quite frank, with the idea of, ‘Do I put him in prison?'” Butler said, adding that he spoke to people in the prison and jail system about what kind of treatment Wilkerson would receive. “I don’t know that there is any great result for anybody,” Butler said. “Mr. Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated.”
Apparently, Judge Butler’s sense of white privilege is so strong on the bench, that he thinks zero prison time is the appropriate deterrent to campus sexual assault even though a study of 13,000 women at Colorado University showed that a shocking 28% percent of college women in Boulder reported unwanted sexual contact ranging from unwanted touching to rape.
Austin Wilkerson’s sex crimes are a Class 3 felony in Colorado, which warrants real imprisonment for four to twelve years, but can stretch into lifetime imprisonment through the crime’s “indeterminate sentencing” penalty, which is reserved for only the most serious offenses. That’s right, Judge Butler sentenced a criminal facing indefinite detention if his original sentence isn’t enough to rehabilitate the offender to a work rehabilitation program. But Judge Butler chose to ignore the mountain of evidence and forgive Wilkerson, who callously blamed the victim for being attacked in his well funded defense by claiming that she was trying to deflect a bad report card.
Perhaps Judge Butler was swayed by Wilkerson’s callous supporters, who sent letters asking the judge to ‘take into account the impact the case has already had on his future when doling out a sentence,’ with such platitudes like, “I think he is a young man that will go far in this world if not defined by this one incident,” and of course the pain of the rapist from standing trial for committing a crime, “The most traumatic incident that Austin has faced is this sexual assault case.”
Judges have no business giving light sentences to convicted rapists for any reason. The sad fact is that an educated rapist is far more of a threat to society than a mere simpleton, and an affluent rapist is even more of a threat due to the greater capacity for deception, and the financial heft to fight legitimate charges. The worst example of the dangers of a highly educated sociopath is Ted Bundy, the serial rapist and serial killer who admitted to murdering over 30 women after dropping out of law school. Bundy’s mind snapped after he too was rejected legitimately by a woman he loved.
Judge Butler’s inexplicable, forever long probation sentence for Austin Wilkerson is nothing more than an affluenza pass, another slap on the wrist in a nation where three rapists in a hundred will ever see jail time.
If you disagree with Judge Patrick Butler’s completely unsound legal reasoning (and I certainly do), there is a complaint form which can be downloaded and sent to the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline, which may be submitted by anyone who has witnessed injustice.
Of course, some readers may wish to express their disappointment in Judge Butler’s decision and file a grievance (and not make any form of threat, but please, promise to fill out one of these complaint forms) directly with his chambers by calling Caitlin.Hawksley@judicial.state.co.us.
The Chief Judge Maria Berkenkotter might wish to be informed of the transgressions of her colleague Judge Butler too, and grievances with her chambers can be delivered at the phone number 303-441-3748.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition