A New York man who pleaded guilty to raping four teenage girls during parties at his parents' home avoided jail time, and the sentence literally sickened one of his victims.
Christopher Belter, now 20, was sentenced to eight years of probation after admitting in 2019 to third-degree rape, attempted first-degree sexual abuse and two misdemeanor charges of second-degree sexual abuse, but Niagara County Court Judge Matthew Murphy III concluded that jail time "would be inappropriate," reported the Washington Post.
"I'm not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain," Murphy said. "There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case. 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."
Belter must register as a sex offender as part of his sentence, which an attorney for one of the victims denounced.
"My client threw up in the ladies room following the sentencing," said attorney Steven Cohen. "If Chris Belter was not a white defendant from a rich and influential family, in my experience … he would surely have been sentenced to prison."
Belter's attorney said the Lewiston man was "tremendously remorseful" for his crimes, which the judge said had been committed when he was 16 or 17 years old against three 16-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl in four separate assaults.
His family home was known as a "party house," which was encouraged by his 50-year-old mother Tricia Vacanti, 56-year-old stepfather Gary Sullo and family friend Jessica Long, 42, who allegedly supplied the teenage girls with alcohol and cannabis, and state police said they groomed the girls for sexual assaults by Belter.
All three adults have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and unlawfully dealing with a child.
Sara Sheldon, the now-retired judge who accepted Belter's plea agreement two years ago placed the teen on two years of probation, and she predicted he would struggle to comply with court-ordered restrictions -- and he did admit to installing software on his computer to allow him to view pornography, which had been forbidden.
Murphy refused to allow Belter to apply for youthful offender status and sentenced him as an adult, but noted the now-20-year-old, who said he had been viewing porn since he was 7, had "recently been treated with medication to lessen his libido."
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