Judge lets private school student, who sexually assaulted four girls, walk free
The judge prayed over his decision
A judge has spared a man who pleaded guilty to raping four teenagers from prison, labelling a custodial sentence ‘inappropriate’.
Ordered to register as a sex offender by Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy, 20-year-old Christopher Belter has managed to avoid prison despite pleading guilty.
Lawyers for the victims said they were horrified by the judge’s decision and were visibly distressed at the scene, reports WKBW.
Judge Matthew Murphy said he was “not ashamed” to have prayed over what is an “appropriate sentence in this case”.
He continued: “Because there was great pain. There was great harm, there were multiple crimes committed in the case,” said the judge.
“It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”
Matthew Murphy warned the private school boy that his probation hinged on strict conditions.
“It’s going to be like a sword hanging over your head for the next eight years,” confirmed the judge.
But the ruling has not been received well, with Lawyer Steve Cohen, who represents one of the victims, saying that he is “deeply, deeply disappointed”.
He continued: “I expected a different outcome today. Justice was not done today.
“He is privileged. He comes from money. He is white. He was sentenced as an adult, appropriately — for an adult to get away with these crimes is unjust.”
He also confirmed that his client was throwing up in the bathroom after becoming considerably upset during the hearing.
Belter was just 17 when he was charged with first-degree rape, third-degree rape and sexual abuse back in 2018. The incidents involved numerous girls aged 15 and 16 at his family home in Lewiston, New York.
Then in 2019, Belter pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sex abuse, third-degree attempted abuse and third-degree rape.
At the time he was granted two years of interim probation while also being informed he would be granted youth offender status.
After breaking the rules and watching pornography in October, the judge ruled that Belter would be sentenced as an adult and removed his youth offender status.
Addressing his victims in his sentencing, Belter said: “Through treatment and reflection, I’ve come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions none of you deserved to be in this situation,” he said.
“I hope each of you could close that wound I gashed.”
Belter will return to court in December for a Sex Offender Registration Act hearing.
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