A “privileged” upstate New York prep schooler who admitted to raping four teenage girls in his home got off without jail time — getting probation and sparking outrage.
Christopher Belter, 20, faced eight years in prison after pleading guilty in the 2018 assaults of girls as young as 15 when he went before Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy Tuesday — but only got a slap on the wrist.
The sentence — eight years of probation — infuriated Belter’s victims.
“I am deeply, deeply disappointed,” Steve Cohen, an attorney for one of the victims, told WKBW-TV. “I expected a different outcome today. Justice was not done today.”
“He is privileged,” Cohen added. “He comes from money. He is white. He was sentenced as an adult, appropriately. For an adult to get away with these crimes is unjust.”
He said at the courthouse that his client was “in the bathroom throwing up right now.”
WKBW reporter Eileen Buckley said on Twitter that another of Belter’s victims, who was in court, was “clearly upset” by the judge’s verdict.
Belter, then 17, was a student at Canisius High School, an exclusive private school in Buffalo when he molested four girls aged 15 and 16 at the time.
Prosecutors said the attacks happened in 2018 inside Belter’s home in Lewiston, about 25 miles north of Buffalo — and pleaded guilty in the case the following year.
Belter was initially sentenced to two years of probation and promised youthful offender status — but blew the deal when he failed to abide by the rules of his probation by accessing pornography on his computer, the Independent reported.
Back in court this week, he was sentenced as an adult and faced jail time.
The judge said he “agonized” over the sentence and said in court he was “not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case.”
“It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate,” he said. “So, I am going to sentence you to probation.”
Belter will still have to register as a sex offender, with the judge warning him that the probation was “going to be like a sword hanging over your head.”
Speaking to his victims in court, Belter said he was remorseful over the attacks.
“Through treatment and reflection, I’ve come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions,” he told the victims. “None of you deserved to be in this situation.”
“I hope each of you could close that wound I gashed,” he said.