In his ruling, the judge ordered that no jail time be imposed on a white man who admitted raping and sexually abusing four teenage girls. It is reported that Judge Matthew J. Murphy III sentenced 20-year-old Christopher Belter to 8 years of probation, believing that a prison sentence would be “unappropriate” in this instance.
The appropriate sentence had been agonized over for months, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually prayed about it,” Murphy responded to Belter, adding that probation would “hang over your head for eight years.”
After agonizing over the sentence for months, I prayed about it a number of times,” Murphy replied to Belter, adding that probation would “hang over your head for eight years.”
One 15-year-old girl and three 16-year-old girls were among his victims. In Lewiston, New York’s most expensive neighborhoods, Belter sexually assaulted the girls four times between 2010 and 2012. The “party house” is Belter’s parents’ residence.
Belter’s mother, stepfather, and a close family friend provided marijuana and alcohol to the victims prior to the acts of sexual assault. In connection with the charges of unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering a child, they have pleaded not guilty.
The judge’s decision about Belter’s victims and counsel this week shocked them. Steven M. Cohen, an attorney who represents one of the victims, told NBC News that his client vomited in the ladies’ room following the sentencing hearing. The attorney further expressed his displeasure with the sentence.
Having practiced law for more than 30 years, Cohen said. In my experience, if Chris Belter had not been a white defendant from a wealthy and influential family, he would not have been offered the original plea deal and he would have surely been sent to jail.
The next court appearance for Belter is scheduled for December 2, when he will be classified under the Sex Offender Registration Act.