Courtney Andrews speaks with Melissa Harris-Perry.

Alabama rapist gets new sentence, still not going to prison


Convicted rapist Austin Smith Clem isn’t going to prison. The same judge who sentenced Clem to zero prison time in November determined on Monday that he now has an even lighter price to pay.

Clem, 25, was convicted in September of raping his young neighbor, Courtney Andrews–once when she was 14 years old, and again when she was 18. Despite being convicted on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape, the only prison time Limestone County circuit judge James Woodroof included in his sentencing was 40 years, all fully suspended in favor of a community corrections program for nonviolent offenders that Clem would have been able to complete while living at home. 

Shortly after Andrews, now 20, appeared on msnbc’s Melissa Harris-Perry in late November to discuss the case, a resentencing was ordered by a county circuit court and the Alabama Circuit Court of Appeals. That resulted in Woodroof’s new sentence of time already served, five years probation, and zero prison time unless Clem, the father of three girls, violates that probation. If he does, he’ll serve 35 total years in the penitentiary. 

By lessening Clem’s original penalty by five years, Woodroof’s new sentence may have violated the law. According to AL.comLimestone County District Attorney Brian Jones filed a new motion on Monday afternoon shortly after the resentencing, alleging that the court was not permitted to sentence Clem to 15 years after originally sentencing him to 20 years, and asking for another resentencing. 

“We are disgusted,” Richard Andrews, Courtney’s father, told a local Huntsville, AL affiliate. “We are trying to enjoy Christmas as a family and then this happens, we have no idea what the judge is thinking. It’s ridiculous.” 

Melissa Harris-Perry, 11/24/13, 12:23 PM ET

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Alabama rapist gets new sentence, still not going to prison