Lawyers for victims said they were outraged over leniency of sentence
Christopher Belter, 20, was instead handed eight years of probation and ordered to register as a sex offender by Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy.
Lawyers for the victims in the case said the women were outraged by the judge’s actions, and were visibly upset at the sentence, according to WKBW.
“I agonised — I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case. Because there was great pain. There was great harm, there were multiple crimes committed in the case,” said the judge.
“It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”
The judge warned Belter, who is white and attended an elite private boys school, that he had to follow a strict set of conditions.
“It’s going to be like a sword hanging over your head for the next eight years,” said the Judge.
Belter was 17 when he was initially charged in 2018 with first degree rape, third degree rape and sexual abuse involving multiple girls aged 15 and 16, at his family’s home in Lewiston, New York.
And in 2019 he pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree sex abuse, third degree attempted abuse and third degree rape.
He was sentenced to two years of interim probation and told he would be granted youth offender status.
But in October the judge ruled Belter had failed to follow his probation rules on accessing pornography and that he wold be sentenced as an adult.
The judge also refused to grant him the youth offender status.
Belter, who was a student at Canisius High School in Buffalo, New York, addressed his victims at his sentencing.
“Through treatment and reflection, I’ve come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions none of you deserved to be in this situation,” he said.
“I hope each of you could close that wound I gashed.”
And he added: “I know though, that a scar will remain that will serve as a reminder of the evil of that night.”
Lawyer Steve Cohen, who represents one of the victims, slammed the judge’s sentencing.
“I am deeply, deeply disappointed. I expected a different outcome today. Justice was not done today,” he said.
And he added: “He is privileged. He comes from money. He is white. He was sentenced as an adult, appropriately — for an adult to get away with these crimes is unjust.”
Mr Cohen said that his client was so upset at the sentencing that she was “in the bathroom throwing up.”
Before the sentencing, Belter’s lawyer, Barry Covert, said his client was “tremendously remorseful for what he has done.”
Belter will be back in court in December for a Sex Offender Registration Act hearing.
Judge Murphy, 69, is a Democrat who served as Niagara County district attorney for 16 yers before becoming a judge.