A judge sentenced a rapist to probation. One of his victims warns "he will offend again"
A young woman rushed out of the courtroom to throw up when she heard her rapist's sentence. She had come forward and testified. Her rapist had pleaded guilty.
But the judge only sentenced him to eight years of probation.
The young woman, referred to as MM in court filings, said she felt sick to her stomach and shook with anger and disgust. "I completely broke down. It was as if I was being victimized all over again," the woman, who asked to be identified as MM, told CBS News.
Christopher Belter, 20, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape, attempted sexual abuse and two counts of second degree sexual abuse involving four teenage girls in an 18-month span at parties inside his family's mansion in Lewiston, New York, not far from Niagara Falls. He faced eight years in prison.
But Judge Matthew Murphy ruled that "incarceration … isn't appropriate" and Belter would be sentenced to eight years of probation.
"I agonized. 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.
But Belter could be a danger to other women, MM said.
"It's just going to make him more comfortable doing this in the future," MM said. "This is a pattern. He will offend again."
MM was a 16-year-old high school student when Belter, who was 16 when the assaults began, raped her and sexually abused three other teenage girls between 2017 and 2018.
His attorneys told the court "he was tremendously remorseful for what he's done."
"I don't believe it for one second," MM said. "He was saying whatever it takes for him to get his best outcome and it worked. … I will have to live with this for the rest of my life, knowing that he's walking the streets and that another girl can be a victim of his any day now. It's terrifying."
MM said she will need extensive therapy and expects she will never stop having nightmares about the incident.
"I don't think that any of the victims or myself will find that closure until we know that he's locked up, and the judge failed us there. He victimized us all over again. He is putting us through hell," she said.
If Belter didn't come from an affluent family, the outcome would have been much different, MM's attorney, Steven Cohen, told CBS News.
"I've been a trial lawyer for over 30 years," Cohen said. "If this individual was not a rich white kid from a privileged background and an influential family, he would be in prison right now."
MM said she has no regrets about speaking out and taking the witness stand to confront her rapist. Yet she questions what message other victims of sexual assault and rape will take away.
"If I were to be someone viewing this right now, looking at this case as a victim of rape or sexual assault — I mean, I would think what's the point in coming forward?" she said. "Why put yourself through the painful experience of testifying when there's not going to be a good outcome?"
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