David Becker, a former East Longmeadow High School student and star athlete, was charged with sexually assaulting two unconscious classmates at a party in April. But don’t worry, according to his attorney Thomas Rooke, he “can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender.”
Or as Rooke told MassLive, “We all make mistakes” and “putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.”
Instead of jail time, Becker, 18, was sentenced to two years probation. He won’t have to register as a sex offender as long as he complies with the terms of his probation, and he plans to enroll in college. According to MassLive, the two girls had been drinking at a party, and after helping clean up with Becker, they went upstairs to sleep. Then they each awoke to Becker assaulting them.
“Victim 1 stated that she had heard that in the past Mr. Becker had done this to other girls and that his friends sometimes refer to him as ‘David the Rapist,’” said a police report.
People online were quick to point out that the Becker case is yet another example of a privileged young white man (á la Brock Turner) getting off with little to no punishment for sexual assault.
According to the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, one third of rape victims experience Rape-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, symptoms of which include re-experiencing the trauma, social withdrawal, poor sleep patterns, and impaired memory. Some of these conditions may be permanent.
Neither victim was at the court hearing, though according to Becker’s lawyer, one said they didn’t believe jail time was necessary.
Because America’s prison system is focused more on punishment than actual rehabilitation, yes, jail time may “ruin” Becker’s life. But there aren’t many options for recourse for rape and assault victims, especially since, time and again, rapists are given the benefit of the doubt while rape victims are stigmatized. The more people describe sexual assault as a “mistake,” the more we’ll forget that it’s a crime.