An Alabama judge found Austin Clem guilty of raping Courtney Andrews, his former neighbor, twice when she was 14 and once when she was 18. Even so, Clem will not serve jail time.
Mother Jones reported that the jury charged Clem, 25, with one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape after less than two hours of deliberation. Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to 10 years in prison for each of the second-degree rape charges and 20 years for first-degree rape. However, he “split” the sentences in such a way that only requires Clem to serve two years in community corrections and three years of supervised probation.
Andrews, a student at the University of South Alabama, told AL.com on Thursday that she was “livid” over the sentence, and that she fears for herself and her family while Clem is a free man. Clem had intimidated her into silence when she was 14 by threatening to harm her family.
“Back on Sept. 11, my family was very relieved to hear the three guilty verdicts,” said the girl’s father, Richard Andrews. “We thought justice was finally being served and although the system was very slow, it was not totally broken. That feeling persisted until yesterday. We were floored to hear the judge hand down such a light sentence.”
Clem’s defense attorney, Dan Totten, told Mother Jones that there were “two sides of the story,” and that his client was charged a week after telling Andrews he would not have a relationship with her.
He also said that Clem would have to live a “very controlled” lifestyle for the next six years.
“If he goes to a party and they’re serving beer, he can't say, ‘Can I have one?’” said Trotten. “If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is 8 or 9 miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can’t do that … It’s not a slap on the wrist.”
The victim chose to make her identity known to the public in order to show how Clem’s crime affected her and her family.
“He’s still not paying for any of it,” Courtney Andrews said. “When does he have to pay? Because he still hasn’t had to. That’s the thing. I have to pay for the rest of my life. I’ve been paying since I was 13 years old.”