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Man Who Pleaded Guilty To Rape Of 4 Teens Given No Jail Time — Judge Says He 'Prayed Over It'

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Christopher Belter and his lawyers

A Lewiston man who plead guilty to the rape of four teenagers will not receive any jail time for his actions — just 8 years of probation instead.

Depending on who you ask, the justice system has been a bit “hit or miss” in the last few years and that distinction tends to be pretty divisive.

After the recent ruling in Niagara County, New York, it seems that most people are echoing the sentiment of attorney Steve Cohen, “I am deeply, deeply disappointed. I expected a different outcome today… Justice was not done today.”

What did Christopher Belter do?

After pleading guilty to two counts of second degree sex abuse, third degree attempted abuse and third degree rape, Judge Matthew Murphy decided that it would be “inappropriate” to sentence 20-year-old confessed rapist Christopher Belter to prison time.

Belter was tried for assaulting four 15 and 16-year-old victims when he was 17 in November of 2018.

For the last two years, Belter has been on a strict probation on which his Youthful Offender status was contingent. Belter himself admitted to violating the rules of his parole before sentencing, which is what caused him to be tried as an adult.

Belter’s attorney, Barry Covert, claimed that Belter was repentant for the heinous crimes that he committed against his victims, saying, “He is tremendously remorseful for what he has done.”

Meanwhile, both the prosecution and the victims, some of which were present for the sentencing, were much less thrilled with the outcome.

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Belter's victims and prosecution were appalled by the light sentencing.

Cohen was particularly outraged by the fact that Belter seems to have mostly gotten away with violating his probation before sentencing.

Cohen said of the lack of repercussions for violating his probation, “Judge Sheldon declared that if Mr. Belter were to deviate from the strict standards she set during probation, that there would be serious consequences. There were none. No consequences.”

Cohen partially attributed the gentle sentence to Belter’s background, saying, “He is privileged. 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,”

Cohen said of one of the victims following sentencing, “I believe she’s in the bathroom throwing up, right now, excuse me.”

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Judge Murphy apparently 'prayed over' the sentence.

Judge Matthew Murphy, the judge that presided over Belter’s sentencing said for his part, “I agonized — I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case."

"Because there was great pain. There was great harm — There were multiple crimes committed in the case… It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”

This comes on the heels of Judge Murphy’s own ruling that Belter would be tried as an adult because “this defendant does not hesitate to ignore the rules when they compete with his own carnal appetites.”

In case there was any ambiguity as to the danger potentially posed by Belter, Judge Murphy continued to say in his October ruling that “the Defendant still posts an 'above average risk' to reoffend even after two years of counseling.”

Now, with a strict probation that he has seen fit to violate before, Belter will be allowed to return to society as a paroled registered sex offender and an otherwise free man.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.