While America is fixated on destroying the legacy of Bill Cosby, young white men continue to get away with rape. Although “get away” might not be the correct term, it is pretty much what it is when the magnitude of rape and the slap on the wrists punishments they are receiving are considered.
A University of Colorado student convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman will not have to serve a prison sentence, a judge ruled on Wednesday with a decision that has sparked outrage from victims’ advocates and that closely resembles the case of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.
A jury convicted Austin James Wilkerson, 22, of sexually assaulting a “helpless” woman on March 15, 2014, when prosecutors say he “isolated and raped the half-conscious victim” after he had told his friends at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration that he was going to take care of her.
Wilkerson, who eventually admitted that he “digitally and orally penetrated” the woman while he “wasn’t getting much of a response from her” — was potentially facing four to 12 years in state prison for the felony offense.
The law, however, gives judges discretion to issue lighter sentences, and in Boulder County court on Wednesday, district judge Patrick Butler ruled that the former student should not serve any time in state prison. Instead, he ordered Wilkerson to serve two years of so-called work release and 20 years to life on probation.
That means that Wilkerson, who was suspended from the public university, will be able to work or go to school during the day and will have to return to a county jail at night while he serves his sentence.
Prosecutors, who had urged the judge to send Wilkerson to prison, said they were disappointed with the decision.
“It does not satisfy our concerns about deterring one of the most prolific and impactful crimes of gender violence in our society,” Caryn Datz, the Boulder County deputy district attorney, said in an interview. “In 2016, we still have a long way to go.”