The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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March 6, 2014

DA won’t appeal Clem rape sentence to high court

ATHENS — Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones will not challenge an appeals court ruling involving an Athens man who was convicted of rape but avoided prison time.

Jones had twice appealed the sentence for Austin Smith Clem, whom a jury had convicted of raping Courtney Andrews, a family friend, three times — twice when she was under age 16 and once when she was 18.

“After consultation with the victim and her family, we have decided not to pursue a petition for writ of mandamus to the Alabama Supreme Court,” Jones said in a statement issued Thursday evening. “Courtney Andrews has shown immense courage and tenacity during this ordeal. My hope is that, through her example, other victims of sexual offenses will find the courage to speak out and to come forward with these crimes.”

Jones said law-enforcement agencies and his office would make sure Clem complies with the conditions of the state’s convicted sex offender act and the conditions of his probation.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Feb. 27 ruled that the Limestone County Circuit Court had the authority to reduce Clem’s sentence from 20 to 15 years in prison. The sentence allowed Clem to avoid any additional jail time beyond the 66 days he had already served and serve the rest of his time on supervised probation.

“While we disagree with the court’s opinion, we do believe that it narrows the legal issue to such an extent that further attempts at appellate review would have little chance of success,” Jones said.


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