News Violence

Alabama Man Convicted of Raping Teen Neighbor Will Serve No Jail Time

Emily Crockett

Austin Smith Clem was sentenced to 20 years, but he won’t serve time in prison unless he violates the terms of his sentencing.

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An Alabama man convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl will serve no jail time, despite being guilty of a felony that mandates at least a ten-year sentence.

Austin Smith Clem, 25, was convicted of raping Courtney Andrews, who is now 20, twice when she was 14 and once when she was 18. reports that he also sexually abused her when she was 13. A jury convicted him on one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape. First-degree rape, a class A felony, carries a ten- to 99-year sentence, according to the Alabama code, while a second-degree rape carries a two- to ten-year sentence.

Clem was sentenced to 20 years on the first-degree rape charge and ten on each second-degree charge, but he won’t serve time in prison unless he violates the terms of his sentencing. The judge “split” the sentence in such a way that Clem will only serve two years in a community corrections program for non-violent offenders, followed by three years of probation. He will also have to register as a sex offender, report to a corrections officer on a weekly basis, and pay $2,381 in fines and restitution.

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The sentencing order against Clem mandates that he have no contact with Andrews’ family, but Andrews, who allowed her name to be published, told that she feared for her family’s safety if Clem was allowed free.

Defense attorney Dan Totten told Mother Jones, “[Clem’s] lifestyle for the next 6 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 8 or 9 miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can’t do that … It’s not a slap on the wrist.”

Andrews said she was “livid” about the sentencing, and recalled Chief Deputy District Attorney Jim Ayers jumping out of his seat and saying, “This isn’t legal. It’s not a legal sentence.”

Totten claimed that Andrews’ continued social relationship with Clem and his family after the rapes cast doubt on whether the attacks were “forcible.” But Clem and his family were neighbors and family friends, and Andrews told that she didn’t tell her parents after the first incidents because Clem threatened their lives. She finally had a friend tell her parents after the final incident in 2011.

Totten also told Mother Jones that he was childhood friends with the judge, but didn’t feel that affected the ruling.

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