This week in Indianapolis, Marion Superior Court Judge Kurt Eisgruber got an unfortunate second chance to sentence a convicted rapist appropriately. He blew it just two months ago when he had his first chance to put David Wise in prison for drugging and raping his now ex-wife. On Thursday, he blew it again.
A Bad Day for Women (and men)
I worked for the Indiana Department of Correction for over five years right after college. I spent more than half of my time there working in some capacity with sex offenders. This experience qualifies me to make the following statement: there is no crime more heinous than rape. A conviction on that charge (guilt beyond a reasonable doubt) cannot have “mitigating” circumstances that justify a sentence of home detention instead of prison. If that were possible, I contend that we would no longer need any prisons for any crimes under any circumstances. That is obviously ridiculous.
Well that’s what Judge Eisbruger sentenced David Wise to in May: 8 years of home detention. There was public outcry all over town and even all over the country. People were calling for the judge’s head. Greta Van Susteren did a piece on it. The debate quickly turned to an argument over whether the judge acted within the law. He did. And for the masses in our sound bite, attention deficit culture, the situation settled down into a more and more distant memory rather quickly. Not so much for the victim I imagine.
In June, Wise became non-compliant with the requirements of his home detention and went off the grid. Protocol required that his victim be notified that his whereabouts were unknown. That call was made to her at 1:30 AM. Imagine that call. For 12 hours, she was victimized again with the fear that she was in imminent danger. Thankfully, he was arrested at 2:40 PM of the same day, leading to his re-appearance in front of Judge Eisbruger this week.
This time, the judge revoked his home detention, sentenced him to 5 years in prison, the remaining 3 on home detention, and required that he register as a sex offender. I am sorry but that is not good enough for me, even though some are happy that he is being locked up at all.
This guy got a sentence so offensively weak that it got national media coverage in May. Then failed to comply with that weak sentence, THE NEXT MONTH, and didn’t even have the suspended part of the earlier sentence reinstated. And now he has to register as a sex offender? How did the original conviction of the worst of all sex offenses not require that? I feel like I’m in a horribly unfunny episode of The Twilight Zone.
I do not belong to the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” crowd on sentencing very often. Almost never in fact. But there is too much evidence of an Indiana specific problem with sexual abuse and too much work being done to address it to sit back and let this travesty of justice fizzle out under the heading of being as good as we could do. It is not. Not by a long shot.
Wise’s victim went to great lengths to stand up for herself and set an example for other victims to do the same. Judge Eisgruber failed to do the right thing in May, and after the victim was re-victimized in June, he was soft on this monster again. Blame the legislature all you want your honor, because there was no honor in this performance.
The victims of sex offenses in Indiana, women and men alike, deserve better than this from our courts. With time already served and good behavior, Wise could be out in less than two years, but not less than one. For whom exactly is that good enough?