David Becker is accused of assaulting two people after they fell asleep at a party
He receives a continuance without a finding, leading to two years on probation
A district court judge dismissed a request to review a sexual assault case in which an 18-year-old was given two years on probation after being initially charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery.
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts District Courts Paul Dawley declined a review despite a petition with over 36,000 signatures calling for the judge who originally ruled in the case to be fired. In a letter, Dawley stated the sentence “was within the lawful bounds established by the Legislature.”
Eighteen-year-old David Becker received a continuance without a finding, which means he won’t be charged with anything immediately, according to court documents.
Instead, he will serve two years on probation, in both Massachusetts and Ohio, where he was planning to attend college, according to court documents. He is to remain drug and alcohol free for two years, stay away from the two victims in the case, and submit to an evaluation for sex offender treatment, according to Hampden County District Attorney spokesman James Leydon.
If he meets these terms and doesn’t violate probation, the case will not appear on Becker’s criminal record. Becker did not plead guilty to any of the charges.
Public outrage has brought attention to sexual assault cases like Becker’s in recent months because some feel that those charged have been receiving light sentences in relation to the gravity of their crimes. Dawley’s refusal to review the case comes during the same week that 22-year-old Stanford University student Brock Turner will be released from jail after serving six months for three sexual assault charges.
Becker’s two-year probation sentence has resulted in a petition to remove Judge Thomas Estes, the judge in Becker’s case, with 36,810 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
Massachusetts Governor’s Councilor Michael Albano wrote to Dawley on August 23 asking him to review the case, because he noticed a few discrepancies in it and wanted “to make sure that judicial protocol was followed,” he told CNN.
Dawley responded on August 26 with a letter declining to conduct any review.
Becker was initially charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery by the East Longmeadow Police Department, which then filed a complaint with the Hampden County District Attorney’s office, according to Leydon.
Two victims told police officer Michael Ingalls they had been sexually assaulted by Becker while they were unconscious after falling asleep at a friend’s house, according to the police report. The victims and Becker were at the friend’s house for a party, and both victims told Ingalls they had been drinking that evening, according to the police report.
Becker and the two victims fell asleep in a friend’s bedroom on the same bed after the party, according to the police report. The first victim left the room after being awakened by Becker “with his fingers in her vagina” according to the police report. The second victim told Ingalls that Becker touched her repeatedly during the night and she pushed his hands away each time, according to the report. She woke up to Becker digitally sexually assaulting her as well, according to the police report.
In the police report, Becker only admitted to sexually assaulting one victim, but, in court, Becker did not plead guilty to any of the charges brought against him. Becker’s attorney Thomas Rooke would not return CNN’s request for comment.
The District Attorney’s Office recommended Becker be found guilty and serve two years in prison, which would require him to be a registered sex offender, but Estes ordered a “continuance without a finding” under which Becker will serve two years on probation.
While Becker didn’t plead guilty to any of the charges, the judge ordered a continuance because there were sufficient facts and evidence presented in the case to find him guilty of indecent assault and battery.
The continuance doesn’t charge Becker with anything, it only extends his sentencing by two years. He does not have to register as a sex offender, and he can serve his probation out of state where he planned to attend college. If he successfully completes his probation under the given terms, the crime will not appear on his record.
Albano said he wrote to Dawley because he believed there were a number of unclear details in the case’s outcome and trial. Albano charges that the district attorney dismissed the initial two counts of rape and only retained the charge of indecent assault and battery when recommending Becker serve two years in prison. This is still a reduced recommendation given the initial crime he was charged with. In Massachusetts, rape carries a sentence of up to life in prison, according to Massachusetts state law.
“This would be comparable to a murder charge being reduced to assault and battery,” Albano told CNN. “Murder is life imprisonment. Rape is life imprisonment.”
District Attorney’s Office spokesman Leydon told CNN that Becker “admitted guilt through evidence … in the crime that he committed and plea that he gave, [his crimes] fell more in line with indecent assault and battery charges than a rape charge.”
Albano also told CNN that it wasn’t made evident whether victims had adequate notice of the hearing date or that their testimony was considered.
Leydon confirmed to CNN that the victims and their families “were heavily consulted.” He also confirmed that one of the victims made a victim impact statement, in which she stated that she didn’t believe Becker should go to jail for what he did. The victim impact statement was not made available in the court documents. The other victim did not submit an impact statement, according to Leydon.
Albano, a governor’s councilor who is running for sheriff of Hampden County, told CNN that he is hoping to meet with Dawley on Wednesday to see if there’s anything else that can be done to have the case reviewed.
“When you have a case that screams out for answers, you have a responsibility to answer the questions,” Albano said.