Moral Low Ground


No Prison Time for Convicted Alabama Child Rapist Austin Smith Clem

Austin Smith Clem (Police photo)

Austin Smith Clem (Police photo)

An Alabama man convicted of raping the teenage daughter of a family friend will be punished with probation and a fine instead of prison time.

Austin Smith Clem of Athens was convicted by a Limestone County jury in September of one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape. The jury found that Clem repeatedly raped the girl, who was 13 years old when the attacks began, during a period spanning the years 2007-2011.

Clem was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the first-degree rape conviction and 10 years for the second-degree conviction. But the sentences were split, and Judge James Woodruff ordered Clem to serve two years in the community corrections program, which is meant for non-violent, low-level offenders, under house arrest, as well as three years’ supervised probation. He will be required to register as a sex offender and pay fines and restitution totaling $2,381. But he won’t serve any jail time.

Clem’s victim has come forward to express her shock and outrage over his sentence. Courtney Andrews told WAFF her rapist got away with his crime.

“He’s still not paying for any of it,” Andrews fumed. “When does he have to pay? Because he still hasn’t had to. That’s the thing. I have to pay for the rest of my life. I’ve been paying since I was 13 years old.”

Clem’s attorney, Dan Totten, complained to Mother Jones about the severity of his client’s sentence, dismissing the public outrage over what is being widely perceived as a ‘slap on the wrist’ punishment.

“It would seem to be relatively mild, but [Clem’s] lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled,” Totten said. “If he goes to a party and they’re serving beer, he can’t say, ‘Can I have one?’ If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is eight or nine miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can’t do that. It’s not a slap on the wrist.”

There have been several other recent cases of convicted child rapists receiving light punishment. Earlier this week, Oakdale, California soccer coach Timothy Lyman was sentenced to one year behind bars for raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a party.

And earlier this year, a Montana judge sentenced Stacey Rambold, a 30-year-old teacher, to just 30 days in jail for repeatedly raping one of his 14-year-old students. Rambold’s victim killed herself during his trial.

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One Comment

  1. wildNovember 16, 2013 at 2:21 pmReply

    This type of justice or corrections has be prevalent here in Arkansas for a long time, in Stone County judgements made are consistently weak to the point of familiar eye rolling.

    I attended one of those criminal proceedings, just for fun, the inept prosecution, the lame defense, and the inaction of the judge cause me to become angered just by watching the shame of it all.

    Of course the newspapers always whine with political excuses about jail space & the price of it. I think nepotism dilutes justice as well at the expense of the efforts of Law enforcement, the strength of having Laws in the first place, and the damage against society that is forced to absorb a vast number of crimes.


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