Rape victim hopes her struggle for justice doesn't scare others - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Rape victim hopes her struggle for justice doesn't scare others

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Courtney Andrews, shown here in an earlier interview, wants her story told to give other victims hope and confidence. Courtney Andrews, shown here in an earlier interview, wants her story told to give other victims hope and confidence.
LIMESTONE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

Courtney Andrews wants her story told. Typically, we hide the identity of rape victims, but Courtney wants the public to know about the difficult time she and her family is having after learning the man a jury convicted of three counts of rape against her may not spend a day in prison for his crimes.

Monday, Limestone County Judge James Woodroof sentenced Austin Clem to a 15-year suspended term and probation after the Criminal Court of Appeals ordered the judge to re-sentence Clem. Clem's original sentence included a 20-year suspended term and community corrections.

The re-sentence order was given because a convicted rapist cannot be placed into community corrections. The judge cut that part out of the new sentence but did not add prison time.

Speaking by phone, Andrews said she tried to temper her hopes, but believed Clem may still get time behind bars.

"My heart stopped for a second. I couldn't breathe. It was just like I couldn't believe it again – just completely dumbfounded. I just don't understand how that can happen," she said.

District Attorney Brian Jones is asking the judge to reconsider. If the judge does not change the sentence further, the DA may bring the case before the Criminal Court of Appeals again. The contention is that the re-sentence is still illegal because the judge cut the sentence from 20 to 15 years.

Courtney hopes that her troubles finding justice in the case will not keep other victims of rape from coming forward.

"There are already a lot of people afraid of people not believing them or just putting their personal stuff out there. Then you go to court, and it's like you get slapped in the face if nothing's done. I'm sure that's going to scare a lot of people," she said.

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