An Indiana judge came under heavy criticism Tuesday after he ordered no prison time for a man convicted of charges related to repeatedly drugging and sexually assaulting his wife.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Times wrote about the April conviction of David Wise, 52, of Indianapolis, on six felony charges of rape and deviate conduct that normally carry prison terms of six to 20 years apiece.
His former wife, Mandy Boardman, told the Los Angeles Times she thought the assaults may have been going on for three years; she said she discovered what was happening when she found video of the incidents on Wise's phone.
Prosecutors had asked for Wise to spend 40 years in prison. Instead, on Friday, Marion County Superior Court Judge Kurt Eisgruber sentenced Wise eight years of GPS-monitored home confinement, with the ability to leave for work and no required therapy. An additional 12-year sentence was suspended provided Wise successfully completed the home detention, plus two years of probation.
Boardman said the judge told her at the sentencing that she "needed to forgive her attacker."
After The Times published its interview with Boardman online on Monday evening, readers began reposting it and other stories related to the case to Eisgruber's election campaign Facebook page, with many condemning the judge for telling Boardman to forgive her rapist.
Eisgruber is among 16 judicial candidates on the ballot for 16 Superior Court slots, said Erin Kelley, spokeswoman for the Marion County clerk's office, and therefor he is assured of a win.
Prosecutors are also not able to appeal a convict's sentence, according to Marion County prosecutor's office spokeswoman Peg McLeish.
Joel Schumm, a law professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said that the judge's sentence was unusual, given the crime, but was still well within the state's sentencing guidelines.
"People are generally surprised [if] a crime like rape … does not include prison time, even a first-time offense," Schumm said, noting that the "normal starting point" for B-felony rape was a 10-year prison sentence. (Indiana has four categories of felonies -- A, B, C and D felonies, with A felonies being the worst -- that carry different levels of punishment.)
However, Schumm added, under sentencing requirements for the B felonies for which Wise was convicted, "There's not a requirement that any of that time is in prison -- there's not even a requirement to be on home detention."
Judges can be reported to a state judicial commission for ethics violations in handling cases, but Schumm said that if Boardman filed a complaint about Eisgruber for the sentence, "I'm sure it would be dismissed out of hand."
"It's a sentence that people disagree with, but as long as judges are following the statute, there's no grounds for an ethics complaint," Schumm said.
As of Tuesday, Boardman -- who has coordinated her media appearances with the prosecutor's office -- did not appear to have plans for legal action, said McLeish, the spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.
Boardman, in an earlier interview with The Times, had called her ex-husband's sentence and the judge's comments "a punch to the gut from the justice system -- or from one judge."
"When these crimes don't appear to be taken seriously, then we'll be worried that victims will be worried to come forward to report these crimes," said Catherine O'Connor, president and chief executive of the Julian Center. "It's tough enough to begin with to report these crimes, and then to follow up with the legal process."
Jody Madeira, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law who has studied other rape sentencing controversies, agreed that the light sentence could have a deterrent effect on other victims thinking about pressing charges.
"Many people don't even report sexual assaults and rape because they're afraid of the stigma, because they're afraid of being locked into a legal proceeding with a person they're scared of," Madeira told The Times. "But if he's going to get sentenced to house arrest, basically, what's the incentive?"
Both Madeira and O'Connor agreed that Wise's no-prison sentence seemed to be an "outlier" for Indiana.