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Christopher Belter’s Parents Accused Of Facilitating His String Of Sex Crimes By ‘Grooming’ Teen Girls

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Christopher Belter

"This is a pattern. He will offend again," one of the survivors of Christopher Belter’s sexual abuse said in the aftermath of his controversial case.

Belter, 20, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape, attempted sexual abuse and two counts of second degree sexual abuse involving four teenage girls.

Yet, in a decision that has been widely criticized, a New York judge who “prayed over” his verdict sentenced Belter to just 8 years of probation — he won’t spend a day in prison for his crimes. 

The assaults took place over an 18-month period in Belter’s family home.

Belter acted alone and no justice can be served until he is adequately punished, but it is impossible to detach his obvious privilege from a family that allegedly enabled his actions.

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"If Chris Belter was not a white defendant from a rich and influential family, it is my belief he would surely have been sentenced to prison," lawyer Steven M Cohen said on Tuesday.

Who are Christopher Belter’s parents?

Belter’s father, Christopher Belter Sr, is a senior trial lawyer and a partner at Goldberg Segalla, a high-end New York law firm where some partners reportedly make more than $1m a year.

Belter’s mother, Tricia Vacanti, also appears to be a lawyer. His stepfather, Gary Sullo, is a chief executive at a lucrative manufacturing firm. 

Belter abused his victims in his family home.

He was 16 when the assaults began, all of which took place in Belter’s home in an exclusive neighborhood near the Niagara Falls Country Club.

The investigation that led to Belter’s arrest began with this home which was reportedly known to locals as a “party house.”

In September 2018, police received a tip through the state’s child abuse helpline and began looking into the parties.

Court papers allege that Vacanti served teenagers jello shots and smoked cannabis with them.

Sullo was charged with supplying alcohol to teenagers back in 2016.

Their culpability in the assaults is impossible to overlook.

Christopher Belter’s victims have accused his mother and stepfather of ‘grooming’ them.

One lawsuit filed by a victim known as MM names Vacanti, Gullo, Belter Sr. and another adult, Jessica Long, as co-defendants — Long is reported to be a family friend.

"Vacanti cultured a relationship with MM with all the characteristics of a peer to peer friendship, including the mutual exchange of personal and confidential information, with the intention of grooming MM and other girls to be prey for her predator son," it alleges.

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"Vacanti would flatter and compliment MM’s appearance, find points of insecurity in MM’s psyche and use them... [she] gained MM’s trust by offering a space for her and others to party with drugs and alcohol."

Other lawsuits claim three adults were aware of the sexual abuse happening at the residence and accused these adults of making the assaults more likely by supplying drugs and alcohol.

The lawsuits are all ongoing and all four adults have pleaded not guilty.

Given the leniency Belter got, it is difficult to imagine if anyone will ever pay the price for his crimes apart from those he inflicted them upon.

Victims have expressed their fears that Belter will reoffend, a reasonable concern given the fact that he already broke a previous probation agreement from 2019.

His family’s status has likely contributed to the unequal treatment he has received in comparison to other sex offenders. 

This is a man, and a family, acting within a system that is built to privilege them. The outrage, while justified, is too little too late when Belter has already exploited every privilege granted to him.

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.