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Egregious Sexual Assault Case Rocks Western New York Community

November 18, 2021

Article Originally from The New York Times Published November 18th, 2021 by Ed Shanahan

The girl was 16 when Christopher Belter raped her, according to court documents. He was a teenager too, a student at an elite private boys school whose family’s western New York home was known as a party house where teens gathered to consume liquor, marijuana and Adderall.

It was August 2018, and the girl, identified in court filings as M.M., was at Mr. Belter’s house to spend the night with his sister before going to Chicago the next day.

He asked her into his room, and then threw her onto the bed, pulled off her clothes and told her to stop being such a baby, according to court documents. At a hearing this summer, she described focusing her attention on the leaves of a plant in the room as the attack continued.

This week, Mr. Belter, 20, was sentenced in the assault on M.M. and in sexual attacks on three other teenage girls. Facing up to eight years in prison, he was instead given eight years’ probation by a judge who said he had “agonized” over the decision.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain,” the judge, Matthew J. Murphy III of Niagara, N.Y., County Court, said at Mr. Belter’s sentencing on Tuesday, according to WKBW, a local television station. “There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case.”

Still, the judge continued, “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate.” He told Mr. Belter, who must register as a sex offender, the probation would be “like a sword hanging” over his head for the next eight years. He offered no further explanation for why the sentence did not include prison time.

Steven M. Cohen, a lawyer for M.M., said late Wednesday that M.M. was “deeply disappointed” by Judge Murphy’s decision.

Read the full article in The New York Times.