Alabama Man Who Got No Jail Time for Three Rape Convictions Gets Lighter Sentence Upon Appeal

clemSometimes there are stories that just leave me utterly speechless.  The original story about a case in Alabama where Austin Smith Clem, who had been found guilty of rape three times yet got zero jail time, was one of those stories.  

When I had first heard about it, I really didn’t even know what to think.  The first thought that went through my mind was, “How the hell does this even happen?  It’s a really bad joke, right?”  Well, it wasn’t.

Mr. Clem’s original sentence, given to him by Judge James Woodroof, was two 10 year sentences for his second-degree rape convictions and a 20 year sentence for his first-degree rape charge.  But the sentence was structured in such a way that Mr. Clem was allowed to avoid any jail time if he abided by his probation and the restrictions set by the judge, which included serving two years in a program aimed at helping non-violent offenders.

How in the hell is someone who was convicted of raping a teenage girl three different times considered “non-violent?”  It’s ridiculous.

Well, following intense public outcry, the judge decided to reconsider the original sentence.

Surely this time a man convicted of three counts of rape would see the inside of a jail cell for quite some time, right?  Nope.  Not only did the judge not give Mr. Clem any jail time (for the second time) he actually lessened his original sentence of “probation” by five years

Can someone please explain to me how this judge is still a judge?

I can’t even begin to understand how this is even happening.  Am I just missing out on key details of this story?  Though I can’t imagine any details justifying no jail time for someone who was convicted of raping someone three times — twice when she was fourteen! 

This is one of those stories where I just don’t understand how this is even allowed to happen.  I just really don’t.

Then, when the judge is given a second chance to fix a horrible mistake, not only does he not fix it — he lessens the “punishment” for the convicted rapist by five years.  

Absurd doesn’t even begin to describe this entire situation.  There’s just no justification that I can possibly imagine to explain not sending someone convicted of three counts of rape to jail, let alone lessening his “sentence” upon reconsideration.

I don’t know where this goes from here, if there’s anywhere else it can go, but this damn sure can’t be called justice.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Connecticut Yankee

    Not that I don’t share your concern, but where are the facts? Other than reporting that the rapes were all of the same girl, and two occurred when she was 14, readers are left as puzzled as you are as to the facts. The second degree stuff is probably becasue of some sense that it was consensual (although of course at her young age that’s a stretch). But then to get a first degree conviction with the same girl makes me wonder how that incident was seen as different. But other than several times expressing your wonderment at the judge, your article doesn’t help anyone understand what happened. Voicing opinions and stirring the pot is all very nice, but give us something to chew on here…

    • ziggywiggy

      try clicking on the blue links in the story- the first one will tell you all you need to know about this rapist and his victim

    • Jim

      Rape in the second degree in Alabama is sex with a minor between the age of 12 and 16. That makes in nonconsensual by definition. Children cannot consent to sex with adults. The prosecutor brought the charges which described the crime committed and which offered the greatest chance at conviction.

      The second encounter was different because she was 18 by that time.

    • Evelyn

      Read the blue links. These were violent rapes of a neighbor girl. Outrageous!!

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      let some punk rape ur daughter and see how many years YOU want him to serve

      • Buckthesystem

        He would serve no time in jail and eternity in hell.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        if U “think” there is a heaven and hell U are into superstition and voodoo

    • Ram Garcia

      If you would take time to read the original article, you would better understand( noted in the first sentence) what occurred… The Jury did it’s job… Can’t say the judge or prosecutor did….

    • seign

      The only facts I need to see are “Rape CONVICTION”, and “14 year old child”. Why bother with anything else? Are you trying to say it’s ok if the CHILD consented?

  • JT

    Uh yeah…was this statutory or actual violent rape? Consensual or forced? Big difference. Some facts would do better than just a bunch if outrage.

    • robingee

      Uh yeah… sex with a 14-year old is illegal. She was a child. So uh yeah… those are the facts. He should be in jail. Women are human beings.

      • stabby_kat

        14-year olds have fucked each other and gotten away with it, robingee. Gotten away with it, because they don’t report it, because there is a difference between non-consensual rape and statutory rape. Statutory rape laws are stupid and based on the religious principle that children are property of the parents, until they are 18 at least. And a lot of those parents choose to fuck em anyways, so uh, yeah fuck you for mocking someone for pointing out that there is a difference between statutory and PHYSICAL, forced rape, which is an awful fucking thing.

    • Crystal

      “actual violent rape”? Really? By its nature, rape is violent.

    • Jim

      Statutory rape is rape. It is a felony. Children cannot consent to sex. There’s a good reason kids cannot sign themselves into legally binding contracts or vote, either. They are KIDS. Stop apologizing for rapists.

      • stabby_kat

        Statutory rape, is STATUTORY rape. Look up the word, moron. You are insulting ACTUAL violent rape victims by confusing the two. Educate yourself for fucks sake.

      • steeltown65

        Jim careful now. You open that can of worms and people will be hitting you with minors being tried as adults for committing adult crimes.

  • Pipercat

    Sure this wasn’t Texas?

    • tread

      Nah then the title of the article would be “Father of rape victim shoots accused rapist 57 times.” and it would be a gun violence piece.

      • Guest

        Yeah, you’re right. A Texas grand jury would have “no-billed” him and he would have walked..

      • Pipercat

        Yeah, you’re right. A Texas grand jury would have “no-billed” him and he would have walked…

  • Margaret Brooks

    What part of “he was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years” did you idiots not get???

    • BlueLion

      Margaret; Which part of five years probation instead of prison did you miss.

    • LifesGreat

      you aren’t the sharpest tool in the tool shed are ya margaret?

  • Patricia Shavers

    if this does not make your blood boil you are bloodless – come on people – this goes way beyond politics – left wing – right wing – no wing – just imagine you are the father – the mother of this teenage girl – think of the victim seeing the rapist at the grocery store – what if you were the girl’s brother – or little sister – and for this teenage girl – how do you think her self image – for the rest of her life – believing the law does not think she is worth defending – this fellow better count his lucky stars he didn’t mess with my granddaughter because he would be begging to go to prison if he knew my son was standing at the courthouse door when he walked out

  • guest

    This article seems to be just sensationalism, but no facts. It’s hard to form an opinion without any facts. For instance, whas this man 18 and the girl 15, and it was consensual? That’s still considered rape…. it says that he was put in a program for non-violent offenders, so that seems like it could be one possibility. There are so many things to take into consideration when judging a case like this, and I tend to trust the judge’s opinion more than this article that is severely lacking any intellectual content.

    • clemdane

      He was 25 at the time and he threatened her parents’ lives if she were to report him. She ended up telling a family friend who finally reported it.

  • Marc Wesley

    The only thing that isolates this case and its outcome is that it managed to get reported on by this journalist. The fact is that there are crimes (both violent and non-violent) being tried every day in which the defendants are either receiving not enough jail time or far too much, for various reasons. Often, corruption, racism, discrimination, abuse of familial connections and other human vices and failings are the reason these punishments do not fit the crimes. I refuse to focus, with tunnel acuity, on this case. This problem with the country’s criminal justice system is too general and too prevalent nationwide.

    This case merely illustrates the core problem with the system, which is that there is no clear sense of standard application of the law and administration of justice present throughout the court system. Make the expected standards clear and unavoidably applicable, and the problem is solved. Crimes should be handled without regard to any of the vices I previously mentioned, throughout the land, in essentially the same way in Alabama as in California, and vice versa. Otherwise, we need not expect anything less than jaw-dropping surprises regarding verdicts and sentencing from now on. If you cannot see why the incredible range of discretion allowed to judges and other operators within this system needs to immediately be curtailed, if you can explain why this atrocity in the system has not been, or should not be, curtailed, please reply directly to me.

    • steeltown65

      Careful what you wish for. That sounds a lot like mandatory minimums. And that has been a total bust. The problem with this case has yet to be heard. It will come out. But every case is different . You can’t just put them all at the same level or severity. For instance . An 18 year old boy is caught having sex with a sixteen year old girl who he has been dating for a year and a half. The parents scream statiatory rape and by the letter of the law he is guilty. Now you find two teens the same ages and they met at a party that night and he’s having sex with her. Now that is totally different. So would you say both of these young men are guilty of the same crime and deserve the same punishment? And as the prosecutor how do you bargain one guy down to less than the other. The girls parents would be asking why their daughters rape means less than the other girl. I don’t know why this guy isn’t doing time. Maybe his family founded the town

  • Jon Kelley

    How about, “You may avoid jail time if you submit to surgical emasculation and full gender nullification”?

  • clemdane

    I consider the judge an Accessory After the Fact. He should serve jail time.

  • Erin Weldon

    The judge and this rapist need to share a prison cell. I don’t know what Alabama community this happened in, but I hope the people there are raising hell.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      the judges female family members

  • luke

    Guys, this is in alabama…

  • Noos

    One word ….Alabama !

  • surfjac

    I found it odd the DA was surprised by the “guilty” verdict citing insufficient evidence. The transcripts must be a pretty good read.
    I couldn’t find enough new information on the other facts of the trial.

  • Matthew Reece

    This case is yet another example of why the government should not have a monopoly on the punishment of criminals.

  • CCO

    Totten (defense attorney) notes that he and Woodroof (the judge) are childhood friends who grew up down the street from one another, although Totten says he didn’t feel that affected the sentence.