Austin Smith Clem was found guilty of molesting and repeatedly raping a teenager, but will spend no time in prison for it. The more I hear from his attorney, the more outrageous this story gets:
“It would seem to be relatively mild,” Totten tells Mother Jones. “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.”
“You didn’t hear the evidence,” Totten says. “The original allegation was that both of these crimes were forcible. But then you have to believe that although she was forcibly raped twice, she continued to come back and have a social relationship with Austin Clem and his family—until he told her that he was going back to his wife and child and would not have a relationship with her. And a week later he was charged. There’s always two sides to the story.”
Although the sentencing order states that Clem will serve two years in the community corrections program, Totten says the sentencing judge has since increased that to three years. Jones, the district attorney, says he is not aware of such a change.
Kelly Kazek, an AL.com reporter who reported on the case, says the lenient sentence took her by surprise. “I have known Jimmy Woodroof professionally for years and years and years,” Kazek says of the judge. “He has always been extremely fair and unbiased. So I am very interested to hear his reasoning.”
Totten notes that he and Woodroof are childhood friends who grew up down the street from one another, although Totten says he didn’t feel that affected the sentence.
I am unable to feel sorry for poor Austin Smith Clem serving two years in community corrections. The jury did not buy his defense, and neither should the community it represented in deciding his guilt. Austin Smith Clem is guilty of raping a child, and so he should be kept far, far away from the most vulnerable members of the community. Alabama built a facility right near Athens specifically in order to protect the community from people like Austin Smith Clem, and his occupation therein would do far more justice than many of the petty offenders that Judge Woodruff has undoubtedly sent there.
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