If anyone thought that Brock Turner was let off lightly this summer, let me direct your attention to David Becker, who got two months of probation for sexually assaulting two girls. Becker and his victims are all in high school, and that age factor reportedly counted in his sentencing, according to reports. Becker, who is 18 years old, reportedly assaulted the two girls while unconscious. Now, his lawyer, Thomas Rooke, claims he thinks that it was all child's play.
According to New York Magazine's The Cut, Rooke said, "We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn't be branded for life with a felony offense and branded a sex offender. Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid's life."
The three teens were all seniors at East Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts. Becker was charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person older than 14. His subsequent probation sentence means he must stay drug and alcohol free for two years and he'll have to submit an evaluation for sex-offender treatment. He can't come near the two 18-year-old women he assaulted and will be monitored by a GPS bracelet he'll have to wear. If he meets all of those requirements, the conviction won't appear on any criminal record and he won't have to register as a sex offender. (At this point, I urge every feminist of any gender to slightly vomit in their mouths.)
According to documents from his arraignment, the assault happened on April 2, 2016 after a party held by a classmate. When the party was broken up by the host's 22-year-old sister, the two victims stayed behind to clean up. They crashed in an upstairs bedroom (one, according to reports, had to be escorted up the stairs because she was drunk) and woke up to Becker penetrating them with his finger. One of the girls reported waking up to Becker touching her breast and she pushed him away and when she woke up again, he was penetrating her his finger as well.
The incident was reported a week later to a school official by a third, anonymous party. When the school resource officer, Michael Ingalls, reached out to the girls, they told their story. One had received a text from Becker apologizing and she responded, telling him to not worry about it because she "didn't know what else to say."
In Becker's defense, Rooke stated that he had no criminal record and had "clocked the second-most hours of community service in his class." Rooke also said that labeling him "David The Rapist" was "unjust."
This is the kind of case that plays right into the narrative of victim blaming when it comes to sexual assault. Of course, no high school student should be so drunk (one hopes) that they need to be escorted up the stairs to sleep it off. No one should be, in an ideal world. In an ideal world, no high school student should ever wake up to find themselves being penetrated, even if it is by a "three star athlete," another of Becker's accomplishments highlighted by his lawyer.
While his lawyer thinks that putting Becker in jail for two years might "ruin his life," it's more likely that Becker could repeat his offense, given that there were no repercussions for his actions. In statement to RawStory, the University of Dayton, where Becker was expected to attend college, said that he will not be attending this fall.
Perhaps there is some justice in the idea that a university will think twice about accepting a charged sexual offender to its program, even if local municipalities don't think they need to be punished.
Being drunk doesn't excuse sexual assault. Being young doesn't excuse sexual assault. Nothing excuses sexual assault and it's time for some grown ups with law degrees, like the lawyers and judges who let this sort of thing slide, to send that message to their communities.