Twenty two-year-old Austin James Wilkerson was convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman following a trial in May. However, he has been spared prison and sentenced to two years of work or school release and 20 years to life on probation.
Therefore, 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.
The assault, a Class 3 felony, carries a likely prison sentence of four to 12 years and under Colorado law, sex assault charge is subject to indefinite sentencing.
“I’ve struggled, to be quite frank, with the idea of, ‘Do I put him in prison?'” Judge Patrick Butler said. “I don’t know that there is any great result for anybody. Mr. Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated.”
Wilkerson apologized to the victim during the hearing, “I sexually assaulted (the victim),” he said. “No words I can say could ever take away the pain and fear that I have caused. Nothing I say can make it better, but I am so sorry.”
The victim, however, had left the room before Wilkerson spoke and was not present when the final sentence was issued.
Trivializing rape and light sentences for rapists and assailants is nothing new in the United States.
Earlier this year, Stanford University’s star swimmer Brock Turner got an unfairly light sentence for rape. Then there was John Enochs, a member of a fraternity, Delta Tau Theta at Indiana University, who pleaded guilty to a charge of battery with moderate bodily injury, a misdemeanor — and, as a result, had two charges of felony rape dropped from his record because he was “profoundly sorry for his lack of judgment and has apologized for his conduct.”