Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith Truffer ruled to suspend the majority of police officer Anthony Westerman's 15-year sentence on Friday, arguing that Westerman did not cause his victims "psychological damage."
In October 2017, Westerman assaulted a 22-year-old woman and was convicted in August on two counts of second degree rape and other charges relating to the attack. He was also convicted of the second degree assault of another woman in June 2019.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge suspended all but four years of Westerman's 15-year sentence. Further, the judge will allow the officer to serve his time on home arrest, rather than in a prison, while he appeals his convictions. The judge also only gave Westerman a single day in jail for the assault, which he called "boorish," according to prosecutors.
The Baltimore County State Attorney, Scott Shellenberger told The Baltimore Sun that Westerman would likely spend no time in prison because it takes a long time for the appeals process to conclude.
The state attorney criticised the judge and argued that his sentencing was inappropriate considering the severity of Westerman's crimes.
"I fear this could cause rape victims to hesitate to report their crimes if they do not feel like they will get justice," he told NBC News.
He was also critical of the judge's determination that Westerman caused no "psychological damage" to his victims.
"She has been in counseling ever since this incident happened, so I didn't really think there was dispute about the fact that there was psychological damage," he said.
Westerman's attorney, Brian Thompson, praised the ruling and thanked the judge for "doing the right thing by not sending him to prison," though he noted that he planned to appeal the conviction.
Mr Thompson said the conviction was based on "he said she said" testimony and claimed he would "appeal this conviction ... until Officer Westerman's name is cleared."
According to court documents, Westerman and two women were drinking at a bar on 4 October 2017, when one became so drunk she passed on in her car. Westerman and the other woman woke her up, and offered to get her a ride home. The 22-year-old woman said she would wait to sober up and drive home herself, but Westerman insisted he would order them an Uber to drive them home.
However, rather than directing the Uber driver to take them home, he directed the driver to his house, where he invited the women inside and raped the 22-year-old.
Westerman was also convicted of forcing himself on another woman in 2019, a conviction that the judge threw out on Friday. A third woman claimed Westerman pulled her aside at a birthday party and allegedly tried to kiss her. She claims she left the event with a family member.
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