Judge Agrees to Resentence Rapist Who Got No Prison Time

Courtesy of Athens Police Department

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Following a national outcry, the Alabama judge who sentenced Austin Smith Clem to probation and no prison time for three rape convictions has agreed to reconsider the sentence. The judge, James Woodroof, filed an order Tuesday indicating his intention to resentence Clem. Brian Jones, the district attorney for Limestone County, in north central Alabama, had previously appealed the sentence as too lenient.

In September, a Limestone County jury found Clem, 25, guilty of raping Courtney Andrews, a teenage acquaintance and his then-neighbor, three times—twice when she was 14, and again when was she was 18. Clem’s defense attorney did not call any witnesses at trial. After less than two hours of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts against Clem on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape.

On November 13, Woodroof ruled that Clem would be punished by serving two years in a program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years of probation.

Clem’s victim, now 20, said she was “livid” when she first heard the verdict. Her case has since received national attention. On Sunday, she appeared on MSNBC, where she told Melissa Harris-Perry, “I need for him to be in prison. I’m not going to feel safe other than that.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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