Courtney Andrews got up the courage to report the man who repeatedly raped her as a teen, only to see him sentenced to no jail time at all. Now, Andrews, who told her story on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, may see justice. A Limestone County circuit criminal court has issued an order for Austin Smith Clem to be resentenced.
Andrews told msnbc that while she’s grateful Clem will be resentenced, “It’s hard for me to put a lot of hope in it, because I don’t want to be let down again. I thought he was going to get prison time before and he didn’t.” That’s especially true because the resentencing will come from the same judge, who just so happened to be a childhood friend of the perpetrator’s attorney.
Clem was found guilty of one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape. Andrews was 14 at the time of the first two assaults. But Clem’s forty-year prison sentence was suspended in favor of a community corrections program that allowed him to skip incarceration entirely.
“It would seem to be relatively mild,” Clem’s attorney told Mother Jones in mid-November. ”But [Clem’s] lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled…If he goes to a party and they’re serving beer, he can’t say, ‘Can I have one?’ If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is eight or nine miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can’t do that…It’s not a slap on the wrist.”
Brian Jones, the Limestone County district attorney, said he was unable to comment while the case was pending before appellate court.
On Sunday’s Melissa Harris Perry, Andrews said of Clem, “I need for him to be in prison. I’m not going to feel safe other than that.”