Calls for Judge’s Removal After 18-Year-Old Sexual Assault Defendant Given Probation

iStock/Thinkstock(EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass.) — An online petition is calling for a judge in Massachusetts to be removed from the bench after sentencing an 18-year-old accused of sexually assaulting two classmates with two years of probation.

David Becker of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery, according to court documents, after an April incident in which he was accused of sexually assaulting two girls who were sleeping in a bed after a house party. Becker and the alleged victims, who are not being identified, were all seniors.

As a part of his probation, Becker must remain drug and alcohol free and not contact the victims, the court documents state. He also has to undergo an evaluation for sex offender treatment, according to the Hampden District Attorney's Office.

The district attorney's office said that if Becker does not violate his probation, he will not have to register as a sex offender, as the charges will be dismissed at the completion of probation.

The online petition creator called the probation ruling "a slap on the wrist," as prosecutors in the case recommended two years in prison. The petition calls for the removal of Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes and has over 16,000 supporters.

At a plea hearing this summer, Becker's lawyer, Thomas Rooke, argued the former high school athlete had already suffered due to his actions.

Estes appeared to give weight to that argument, saying, "There have already been significant consequences, collateral consequences to simply being charged with the offense in the first place." Estes added that a harsher punishment would "slam a lot of doors" for Becker.

Becker's attorney described him as a model student that deserved to go to college.

"He was a star, he was a rising star... and then suddenly, April 2, 2016, he's at a house party. There's no parents. There's alcohol, there's marijuana, there's testosterone, there's estrogen. A perfect mix for a nuclear disaster. And he makes a bad decision," Rooke said.

According to police reports, Becker told investigators that when one of the girls "didn't protest," when he digitally penetrated her, he assumed it was "OK." He denied having any physical contact with the other alleged victim.

One of the alleged victims told police Becker texted her after the incident writing, "Very sorry about last night I was very much in the wrong." The girl replied, "don't even worry about it it's all good."

The Hampden District Attorney's Office recommended two years of prison time for Becker, which it considered "appropriate and fair, based on the facts and circumstances of the case," a district attorney's office spokesman said.

Scott Berkowitz, the president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, was disappointed by the decision.

"I think that the judge's sympathies were misplaced in this case. This offender's college career shouldn't have been the priority. Punishment for the act he committed should be the priority," Berkowitz said.

Becker's case comes on the heels of another sexual assault case that caused outrage over a six-month jail sentence given to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner after he allegedly assaulted an unconscious woman.

The online petition compares Becker's case to Turner's, saying it is "another instance of a white athlete receiving a slap on the wrist for a violent sexual crime."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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