America is a country that was founded, built, designed, and based on white prevailedge. While this fact has never been lost on those of us with our feet firmly planted in reality. Some examples are far too blatant and disturbing to be dismissed as business as usual. Perhaps the highest level of this prevailedge is that in which white males get to operate with ultimate autonomy. Taking liberties as if they are masters of the universe. This case is just one example.
An 18-year-old accused of sexually assaulting two high school classmates is facing two years of probation despite the district attorney's office's recommendation of two years in prison.
David Becker, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery, according to court documents, after an April 2 incident in which he was accused of digitally penetrating two girls who were sleeping in a bed after a house party. Becker and the alleged victims, who are not being identified, were all seniors.
On Aug. 15, Becker's case was ordered continued without a finding for two years by Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes.
As a part of his probation, Becker must remain drug- and alcohol-free and not contact the victims, the court documents state. He also has to undergo an evaluation for sex offender treatment, according to the Hampden District Attorney's Office. But this "punishment" is still nothing more than a minuscule slap on the wrist.
Then to add insult to injury, the district attorney's office also said that if Becker does not violate his probation, he will not have to register as a sex offender, and there's more. The charges will be dismissed at the completion of probation.
In a continuance without a finding, the court agrees to continue a case without a guilty finding for a certain period, as long as the defendant adheres to the terms of his or her probation. If the probation is successfully completed, the case is dismissed.
According to police reports, Becker told investigators that when one of the girls "didn't protest," he assumed it was "OK." He denied having any physical contact with the other alleged victim.
A clerk for Estes' office told local media outlets that he could not comment on his decision to continue the case without a finding.
The Hampden District Attorney's Office recommended two years of prison time for Becker, which it considered "appropriate and fair, based on the facts and circumstances of the case," a district attorney's office spokesman said.
Scott Berkowitz, the president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, was disappointed by the decision.
"It's really discouraging when everyone in the process does their job and ... then you see a sentence like this," he said.
"The judge's decision in this case is probably "discouraging for the victims" and likely "deters other people from reporting their crimes" and "putting themselves through this entire criminal justice process" because they will wonder, 'Is it worth it?'"
Berkowitz said sexual assault should be taken seriously, even with an 18-year-old.
"I don't think it would ever occur to a judge or lawyer that after someone was convicted of a murder, that they would just get probation because they deserve a second chance," he said. "There would be a universal understanding that there are consequences for committing a crime that bad."
Becker's defense attorney, Thomas Rooke, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but he told The Republican that his client "can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender." Even though he clearly is a sex offender. Berlowitz then went on to say, "One of the things that people need to remember is that part of these cases involves being able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," he said. "And there are going to be times that prosecutors are going to take a plea deal ... even if they believe in their heart of hearts that something horrible happened."
He added, "The prosecutors' decision to enter into a plea deal is most often about their concern either about being able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt or, in some of these cases, for putting the victims through the trauma of a trial."
Since this story first surfaced there have been reports that one of the victims had oral sex with Becker on more than one occasion, as if this were an excuse for his actions. Even if this is true, he did not have the right to expect sex whenever he pleased. Expectation does not equal entitlement. At least not for most of us.