David Becker, 18, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault, leading to a sentence of two years probation.
The former East Longmeadow High School star athlete was at a friend’s house party on April 2 when he allegedly penetrated two female High School colleagues with his fingers. But the police only got involved a week after the incident, “when a East Longmeadow High School student told school resource Officer Michael Ingalls about a rumor circulating that a high school senior had sexually assaulted two senior girls,” MassLive reports.
Once Ingalls contacted the victims, they explained they had been drinking at a friend’s home. The friend’s father had left town prior to the event, but the party broke up at 11:30 PM when the friend’s 22-year-old sister arrived and told everyone to leave.
Becker, along with the two senior girls and another friend, remained and helped clean the house. Later, the two girls went to an upstairs bedroom to sleep. At least one of the girls needed help getting upstairs. They had consumed vodka, one of the girls told the police. Becker allegedly stepped into the room later “to talk, before they all fell asleep in the same bed.” Both girls claimed they woke up to Becker sexually assaulting them.
From Mass Live:
“The other alleged victim told police that she was awoken by someone’s hand underneath her shirt on her breast, which she pushed away, before she felt a hand inside her pants on her buttocks, pushing the hand away again. After falling back asleep, she said, she awoke again when the person penetrated her with their finger.”
The next day, Becker sent a text message to one of the girls allegedly apologizing for the assault. The response he received read: “don’t even worry about it.” She reportedly said what she said because “she did not know what else to say,” Ingalls stated in his report.
During a victim impact statement later, one of the two victims claimed “she did not believe jail time” was necessary.
Last week, Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes ordered Becker’s case continued for two years over a lack of finding. In many cases, courts adopt a “continuance” when there is insufficient evidence or too few witnesses. In this case, Becker was ordered “to remain drug and alcohol-free, submit to an evaluation for sex offender treatment and stay away from the two 18-year old victims.” No conviction will appear on Becker’s record, and he won’t have to register as a sex offender as long as he follows the judge’s orders.
Becker’s attorney, Thomas Rooke, applauded the decision, claiming Becker “can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender… The goal of this sentence was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life, which is a college experience.”
On social media, critics claimed Becker’s “white privilege” played a role in the aftermath, going as far as demanding Judge Estes be disbarred:
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) August 23, 2016
Many are also suggesting Becker’s case is similar to Brock Turner’s, the Stanford University athlete who was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault after using his hand to penetrate an unconscious 22-year-old woman.
Time reported at the time that “Turner has been convicted of sexual assault. He is not, technically, a rapist.”
The publication went on to explain that the “distinction matters” because the definition of rape is different depending on state legislation. In many states, rape is defined as “‘an act of sexual intercourse’… Other types of sexual assault — including forcible acts of sexual penetration by any foreign object — are defined and categorized as different crimes.”
In Turner’s case, the judge sentenced the college athlete to two years in jail and 20 years to life on probation — a much harsher sentence than Becker’s.
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