In April, East Longmeadow High School senior David Becker was charged with sexually assaulting two of his classmates at a party while they were unconscious. Prosecutors recommended that the three-sport athlete be found guilty, MassLive.com reported, on two counts of indecent assault and battery. The recommended sentence from the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office was two years in prison.
Today, MassLive.com reported what the judge decided: Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes continued the case without a finding for two years, which will include drug testing and an evaluation for sex offender treatment. He will not have any jail time. He will not have to register as a sex offender. The offense won’t appear on his record as long as he fulfills the terms of his probation. He will receive a conviction only if he reoffends. The report doesn’t say what explanation, if any, Estes gave for his decision.
Becker’s attorney Thomas Rooke told MassLive.com that Becker received such a lenient sentence because anything harsher would have impeded his chances of having a college experience in Ohio.
“He can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender,” said attorney Thomas Rooke, who defended David Becker, 18, in court. “The goal of this sentence was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go onto the next step of his life, which is a college experience.”
He then played the “we all make mistakes” card, quite literally.
“We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn’t be branded for life with a felony offense and branded a sex offender,” Rooke said. “Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.”
But what about the lives of the two victims? MassLive.com, citing court documents, said Becker was charged with penetrating both of them with his finger while they were unconscious, according to court documents. Here is what MassLive.com reported they told school resource Officer Michael Ingalls, who heard a rumor and reached out to them:
... the victims told him they had been drinking at the Allen Street home of a classmate whose father was out of town. The party broke up at about 11:30 p.m., when their friend’s 22-year-old sister arrived home and told the teenage revelers to leave.
Becker, the victims and another friend stayed at the house and helped clean. After they finished, one of the victims said, both girls went into an upstairs bedroom—one requiring assistance walking up the stairs—and Becker later came in to talk, before they all fell asleep in the same bed. Each reported waking up to Becker sexually assaulting them.
In a text message to one of the victims the next day, Becker apologized for the assault, court records show. The victim responded with a text telling Becker “don’t even worry about it,” but later told police that she said this because “she did not know what else to say,” Ingalls’ police report states.
Neither victim was at the court hearing. One did say in her victim impact statement that she did not believe jail time was needed, James Leydon, spokesman for the district attorney’s office, told MassLive. But prosecutors still recommended jail time because “we also considered the aggravating factors.”
The MassLive.com ended on the typical local reporting note of different people giving different opinions. One person thought the results were fair, another said the judge’s decision reflected Becker’s “social standing.” This case might not have ignited the same national outrage as what happened with Brock Turner, but it is a reminder that Turner’s lenient sentence and absurd non-apology was far from a one-time only result.