A judge in Indianapolis has come under fierce criticism after he spared jail time for a man convicted of repeatedly drugging and sexually assaulting his wife - and then urged the woman to forgive her former spouse.
David Wise, 52, of Indianapolis, was found guilty on six felony charges of rape and deviate conduct last month. The offences normally carry prison terms of six to 20 years apiece, meaning Wise was facing up to 120 years in prison.
But instead, Marion Superior County Judge Kurt Eisgruber chose to sentence Wise to eight years of home confinement, with the ability to leave for work and no required therapy.
Wise's ex-wife Mandy Boardman waived her right to anonymity to express her outrage over the light sentence, passed last week.
"To have my rapist, my attacker, convicted on all six counts, only to be let go – only for him to walk out that door the same time I could - was just unfathomable," the 36-year-old told The Los Angeles Times in an interview yesterday.
"I never thought that he would be at home, being able to have the same rights and privileges as I do."
Boardman believes Wise had been drugging her and raping her in her sleep for at least three years. She had been feeling sleepy for no reason and would see a strange powder in her drinks or wake up with a pill partially dissolved in her mouth. She also found video clips of herself being assaulted on her husband's phone.
David Wise was sentenced to eight years' home confinement for repeatedly drugging and raping his wife
As well as the lenient sentence, Boardman is also outraged over what Judge Eisgruber said to her when he passed judgement on her former husband.
"While the judge was giving his opinion on the sentence, he first turned to me and told me I needed to forgive my attacker, which is unfathomable," Boardman said. "He told me I needed to forgive my attacker and I needed to let my attacker walk. It was a punch to the gut from the justice system - or from one judge."
When contacted by reporters, Judge Eisgruber said he could not comment on the case because Wise was appealing his sentence (despite it being minimal).
However, he did seek to clarify his remarks about forgiveness to the convict's wife.
"He's obviously struggled with this and struggled to this day, and I hope that she could forgive him," he told The LA Times.
"Ultimately, I think that helps a lot of people heal - it helps them to reach that point. Some can, some cannot. I’m not in her shoes, I’m not able to say one way or another… It's not something that’s limited to her or this case. But when people are really struggling, I just offer that out. I just hope that they find peace."
Mandy Boardman, pictured on a local TV channel, waived her right to anonymity to protest the judge's decision
Experts say 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," Joel Schumm, a law professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, told the Chicago Tribune.
Schumm said that the "normal starting point" for the "B-felony" rape of which Wise was convicted was a 10-year prison sentence. [Indiana has four categories of felonies -- A, B, C and D felonies, with A felonies being the worst].
But he added, "There’s not a requirement that any of that time is in prison - there’s not even a requirement to be on home detention."
Outraged members of the public have taken to Judge Eisgruber's re-election Facebook page to express their anger over the sentencing.
"You should be ashamed of yourself for your ridiculous 'sentence' of David Wise. He DRUGGED and RAPED his wife repeatedly, and you gave him a slap on the wrist and victim-shamed her," one commenter wrote. "You are a disgrace to your profession."
"I'm curious: do you tell robbery victims that they need to forgive their assailants?" another person wrote. "Do you tell victims of fraud that they need to forgive the criminals who swindled them? Why must someone who is repeatedly sexually assaulted by someone she trusted and loved supposed to forgive him?"
Deputy Prosecutor Courtney Curtis, who handled the case and pushed for a 40-year sentence, told The LA Times that she was not allowed to express an opinion about the judge's sentence, but noted that the crime certainly seemed to warrant a prison term.
"In these types of cases, we always ask for prison time because they are violent crimes of a horrible, horrific nature," Curtis said. "The fact that someone drugged their wife - drugged anyone - for three years, and then videotaped that - we always ask for prison time, and that’s what we asked for in this circumstance."
Words: Anna Brech