A local court ruling has attracted criticism across the country, after a Western Massachusetts judge gave what some call a “lenient” sentence to an East Longmeadow teen accused of raping two women.
On August 15th, Judge Thomas Estes sentenced 18-year-old David Becker to two-years’ probation in Palmer District Court. Prosecutors wanted a two-year prison sentence.
In the following days, criticism took off on social media. This week, a petition asking the Massachusetts legislature to remove the judge appeared on the activism website Care2.com. It was written by Kelsey Bourgeois, a Chicago-based employee of the site. Bourgeois said she sees the case as part of a national trend.
“In all these recent cases it’s a young, white kid and typically he’s an athlete,” Bourgeois said. “In each case they’re valuing the perpetrator’s life and well-being much more than their victims’.”
Neither Judge Estes nor Becker’s attorney returned calls for comment. In audio of the sentencing hearing obtained by MassLive, Estes said the decision was not easy, and cited a statement by one of the victims who said she did not want to be responsible for ruining Becker’s life.