November 26, 2013

A rapist’s light sentence prompts the survivor to go public: The Alabama case of a man convicted of raping a teenager three times was given a sentence allowing him to completely avoid jail time continues to draw attention. Courtney Andrews, who was raped by her neighbor, Austin Clem, twice at 14 and again at 18, appeared on the Melissa Harris-Perry show Sunday.

Andrews told Harris-Perry why she decided to go public with her story:

”I just felt like if it happened with me, then it probably happens with other people,” she said. “If no one has really stood up and said anything about it, then maybe no one ever will if I don’t. So I felt like it would an injustice to other people if I didn’t…I knew I just had to do what I had to do.”

“There are many injustices here,” said MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon,. “An enormous injustice is that these programs that are designated for non-violent offenders like drug offenders, who need healing and have not committed violence, that the implicit idea here, that rape is not a violent act–when it obviously is a very violent act that is masked by all of our society’s issues around the fact that it’s also an intimate act.”

Although the trial is over and Clem was convicted and Andrews has left home for college, she still lives with fear; the man convicted of raping her three times will once again be living near her parents.

When asked by Harris-Perry what it would take for her to feel safe, Andrews responded tearfully, “I need for him to be in prison. I’m not going to feel safe other than that.

“Every time I think about going home to see my parents, it’s going to be hard. Every time I think about my parents being home, you know. … It just really bothers me, and scares me, because they’re there and I’m only 20, but I want to protect them.”

Prosecutors have filed an appeal to have Clem imprisoned and his sentence vacated.

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