No prison for man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual assault in New York

20-year-old Christopher Belter, who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual assault in 2019, was sentenced to eight years probation and must register as a sex offender, but will not face prison time. WKBW's Eileen Buckley reports.

Posted: Nov 21, 2021 10:08 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2021 10:39 PM


A man who pleaded guilty to the rape and sexual assault of four teenage girls will avoid prison time after a New York state judge said time behind bars would be inappropriate.

Christopher Belter, now 20, entered a plea deal in 2019 in which he agreed to plead guilty to attempted first-degree sexual abuse, third-degree rape and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, according to court documents.

The charges stem from four separate incidents in 2017 and 2018 in Lewiston, New York, the documents state. He and the victims were all under 18 at the time.

Belter was placed on interim probation for two years with limits on his internet use and access to pornography, the documents state.

But he violated the terms of his probation, according to court documents.

Judge Matthew J. Murphy denied him Youthful Offender status and ruled he'd be sentenced as an adult, the documents state.

Last Tuesday, Judge Murphy issued a sentence of eight years of probation and ruled Belter must register as a sex offender -- but said prison time would be inappropriate.

"I agonized. I'm not ashamed that to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain. There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case," Judge Murphy said, according to CNN affiliate WKBW. "It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn't appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation."

An order of protection was also issued on the first charge.

The lighter-than-expected punishment for Belter bears similarities to criticism lobbied against the sexual assault case of Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was sentenced to six months in prison by Judge Aaron Persky for raping an adult woman.

Voters in Santa Clara County, California, later recalled Persky due to outrage over the sentence.

Judge Murphy is set to retire next month at the state's mandatory retirement age of 70, according to WKBW.

Belter's attorney Barry Covert declined to comment. Prior to the sentencing, Belter read a statement to the victims in the case.

"Through treatment and reflection, I've come to feel deep shame and regret for my actions. None of you deserved to be in this situation," he said. "I hope each of you could close that wound I gashed."

"I know though, that a scar will remain that will serve as a reminder of the evil of that night," he added.

Victim "M.M." spoke in court in August

One of Belter's victims spoke about the incident in a court hearing. The girl, identified as M.M., was 16 in August 2018 when Belter raped her and "told her to stop being such a baby," court documents state. She told the court she focused on a plant in his room "as she cried during the attack."

"I wish I would have had a louder voice at the beginning of all of this. Maybe I could have done more. That 16-year-old girl trusted a bit too much that justice would have been served. She worried that if she spoke up louder, she would get hurt even worse and hurt other people along the way. She had just assumed that all rapists go to jail. She missed out on opportunities to speak up that she wasn't even aware of. Let the People do their jobs, right," she told the court.

"But today I am older. Today I know that I am able to speak up for myself without interference, without people telling me what to say and what not to say. So I stand before you now asking you to not let this be the end, to not let this rapist walk away from two years' probation with a clean slate. I am asking you because you have the ability to save future girls. You have the ability to either put this fire out or to let it continue burning."

Steve Cohen, an attorney for one of Belter's victims, said his client was deeply disappointed in the sentence and vomited in the bathroom afterward.

M.M. told WKBW she was "disgusted" by the sentencing.

"The judge had the opportunity to put out the fire but he chose to let it keep burning," she said. "I didn't expect to be as emotional as I was, but I just broke down."

Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman also criticized the lack of prison time in the sentence.

"Based on the seriousness of these crimes, the very powerful and emotional statements of the victims and the fact that Christopher Belter was already given a shot at interim probation and failed, my office has been very clear that we believed a prison sentence was entirely appropriate in this case," he said.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1097128

Reported Deaths: 17438
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1437882222
Lake712531225
Allen65537867
Hamilton50147482
St. Joseph48760639
Elkhart39461538
Vanderburgh34221495
Tippecanoe30237271
Johnson27179463
Hendricks25845379
Porter25014381
Madison20656444
Clark19898275
Vigo18764308
LaPorte16857260
Delaware16425291
Howard16408311
Monroe16379217
Kosciusko13936163
Hancock12841185
Bartholomew12686188
Warrick11995189
Wayne11879265
Floyd11869225
Grant11701235
Morgan10252188
Boone9675120
Noble9069121
Henry9002165
Marshall8907146
Dearborn881799
Dubois8710139
Shelby8054128
Cass8014127
Lawrence7922182
DeKalb7591106
Huntington7448108
Jackson743893
Gibson7002118
Montgomery6910123
Harrison685296
Knox6827113
Steuben654186
Miami6477107
Whitley642260
Putnam631982
Clinton618976
Wabash6060108
Jasper601791
Jefferson5689103
Ripley549192
Adams532381
Daviess5003116
Scott480378
Wells471799
White468767
Greene461799
Clay457462
Decatur4529109
Jennings439666
Fayette435694
LaGrange419290
Posey403244
Washington384154
Randolph3818107
Fountain368362
Spencer355846
Fulton355572
Starke348772
Owen346276
Sullivan344954
Orange324470
Jay318650
Rush298332
Carroll289438
Franklin286744
Perry283253
Vermillion280458
Tipton247365
Parke246330
Pike244144
Blackford218044
Pulaski205658
Newton179052
Brown171850
Crawford167929
Benton163217
Martin150819
Switzerland145112
Warren132216
Union117816
Ohio91413
Unassigned0585

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1683472

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1766331826
Cuyahoga1641462636
Hamilton1122641528
Montgomery794721387
Summit702171199
Lucas618431017
Butler55878803
Stark525841170
Lorain41058639
Warren35404412
Mahoning35095769
Lake31445493
Clermont30711362
Delaware26682182
Trumbull26664611
Licking26200335
Medina25291351
Fairfield24173287
Greene24051369
Clark21653387
Portage20709280
Richland20587336
Wood19626246
Allen18542320
Miami17031348
Columbiana16502331
Muskingum16416206
Wayne15432304
Tuscarawas14086357
Marion13054194
Erie12423198
Ashtabula12314225
Scioto12235182
Pickaway12070151
Ross11487223
Hancock11256173
Geauga10666174
Lawrence10504171
Belmont10259231
Huron9588155
Jefferson9462225
Union939175
Sandusky9068166
Seneca8692156
Knox8618169
Washington8613156
Athens827396
Darke8270179
Ashland7840147
Auglaize7741115
Shelby7337132
Defiance7210114
Crawford7082150
Brown7052115
Fulton7016111
Logan6857108
Mercer681697
Guernsey680283
Highland6615117
Madison641389
Clinton6388106
Williams628798
Preble6171139
Putnam6089120
Jackson572396
Champaign568286
Perry558879
Coshocton5552103
Ottawa553599
Morrow506464
Fayette483170
Hardin477899
Gallia462978
Pike459076
Van Wert454691
Adams4514109
Henry424976
Hocking401493
Holmes3939137
Wyandot367973
Carroll351578
Paulding319349
Meigs302457
Monroe231860
Noble216447
Morgan210138
Harrison205152
Vinton183937
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 23°
Angola
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 28°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 27°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 23°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 27°
The warming trend is expected to continue through Thursday before cooler air returns to the Midwest.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events