Rape Victim, District Attorney Fight Judge's Ruling
LIMESTONE COUNTY, AL (WZDX) - A man who was found guilty for raping a teenage girl received a sentence from the judge equal to no prison time. Now, the female victim and district attorney are fighting back.
Austin Smith Clem was found guilty by a jury in September on three counts of raping then-minor Courtney Andrews. The normal sentence carries with it 30 years of prison time, but Limestone County Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to four years of community corrections and six years of supervised probation.
Clem, who is now 25, was released after that sentencing and was free to go home.
"My family and I were thinking 'Yes, finally we've gotten to this point. He is going to go to jail and he is going to get this punishment that he deserves' and then they say you get to go back home," said Andrews.
Clem was convicted of one count of first degree rape and two counts of second degree rape.
Andrews says she has lived with the nightmare of what Clem did to her since she was 13 when she says Clem, a family friend, began molesting her. She said the incidents continued until she was 18.
"You know, for the longest time before the trial, my parents knew I was scared for a really long time. It was me crying myself to sleep every single day. You know, days of depression. Then once I told my family, that was hard too because not only was I hurt, but then my family was hurt. I had to see that. This whole time I have been trying to be strong for my family," said Andrews.
With that strength and with the help of Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones, Andrews is appealing the judge's decision. They believe the sentencing violates state statute. In the motion Jones filed with the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, he asks the court to rule on whether or not it was legal for the judge to split the sentence in the way it was, and whether or not a person convicted of first degree rape could use a community corrections program to serve his time.
"I mean, I just don't get how he can put this person back out into the same community that his family lives in because I don't know if he has kids or if he has grandchildren or anything like that. But you know, he is putting them in harm's way by doing that. I know for me I wouldn't be able to sleep at night for doing that," said Andrews.
Clem's ruling also requires that he register as a sex offender.