By Jean Cole
Austin Clem, an Athens man convicted of raping a family friend and babysitter, is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Limestone County Circuit Court.
Clem, 25, was convicted Sept. 11 of two counts of second-degree rape and one count of first-degree rape involving a girl who was 14 and 18 when the rapes occurred.
He is facing a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison on each of the second-degree rape convictions, which are Class B felonies, and a sentence of 10 to 99 years on the first-degree rape charge, which is a Class A felony.
Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof Jr. will sentence Clem.
During the three-day trial, prosecutors proved that on two occasions, Clem raped a 14-year-old family friend who babysat his and his wife’s two children at their Athens apartment. They also proved that he raped the woman again at his apartment when she was 18. Clem was between 19 and 20 when the first rapes took place.
The victim, who is now 20, provided emotional testimony of the event during the course of the trial. Her 19-year-old friend, Rita Pfaff, also testified Wednesday that the victim had told her about the first two of three rapes when they were both freshmen in high school in 2009. The victim said she had not wanted to have sexual intercourse with Clem but was scared and did not know how to handle the situation. The friend also testified that she witnessed the victim telephone the wife of the accused to tell her about the first and second rape. The witness said the wife begged the victim not to call police and promised to put a stop to it.
Years later, when the victim was 18, she said Clem persuaded her, under false pretense, to come to his apartment on Dec. 6, 2011, when he forcibly raped her.
Clem’s defense attorney, Dan Totten, had argued at trial that the victim was “a girl rejected and she got even,” and that it was a case of “fatal attraction” or “a woman scorned.” He said there was no proof of rape, including no evidence of a fight or DNA evidence.
During his closing, Deputy District Attorney Jim Ayers Jr., who prosecuted the case along with Assistant District Attorney Matt Huggins, said the defense was asking jurors to believe that a young woman who finished high school and was going to attend college early wanted to take up with an older, divorced man with kids. He said there was no evidence she ever wanted Clem.
“He was the one coming to her world,” Ayers said. “Calling on her, texting her, and it had gone on for years going way back.”