Debate over sexual assault sentence leniency - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Debate over sexual assault sentence leniency

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Right now, a district court judge is trying to set the record straight over a sentence recently handed down to a man convicted of sexual assault. Many Montanans are concerned judge john McKeon's sentencing is too lenient.

The defendant, Martin Blake, was given a 30-year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to raping a 12-year-old girl last year.

The man spent 17 days in jail and lost his job.

According to an article in the Glasgow Courier, McKeon chose not to follow the plea agreement recommendations which would have sent Blake to prison for a minimum of 25 years.

In a statement, McKeon said although the plea agreement called for a minimum 25 year sentence, it also called for a psychosexual evaluation and contemplated a lesser sentence which reads in part: "If the findings contained in the sexual offender evaluation report...recommends that the treatment of the offender while in a local community affords a better opportunity for rehabilitation...the defendant may argue for a lesser punishment."

McKeon also said the victim's mother wrote the court saying, in part: "I do not feel 25 years in prison is necessarily the best way for the defendant to pay for what he has done...he needs help.

Ashlee Owens with YWCA said sentences like this can be frustrating at times, but there's a productive way to use your anger.

"It's important to be angry, but to put it into motion and to help the organizations in their community that work to help these survivors and help these families through this difficult process," Owens said.

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