Local sexual assault victim advocacy groups are speaking out after the decision of Circuit Court Judge Calvin Holden’s decision to sentence former Ozark restaurant owner Beau Gormley to five years probation on a second rape conviction.
Me Too Springfield released a statement to OI about the incident:
Both leadership and members of our organization were outraged at this news.
We strongly believe that one of the best ways to lower the rates of sexual assault is to punish perpetrators. Rulings like this send a strong message to rapists that they can get away with it.
Not only is it unjust, but sends the message to victims that pursuing justice isn’t worth it.
We have been given the privilege of hearing and representing local survivors of sexual assault, and their response to this ruling has been clear. Survivors of Springfield, Missouri (including a board member of Me Too Springfield who has been assigned this same judge for her own rape case) have expressed to us how scared they are now that they will not get justice, and their voices of fear and anguish will not be heard.
This ruling is a huge setback to the efforts of our organization and city leaders who are invested in regaining the trust of survivors, getting more women to report, and ensuring that justice is served more even-handedly.
Me Too Springfield had previously called for residents angered by the decision of Judge Holden to file a complaint with the state’s Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline.
Gormley committed the second rape one month into his probation for a guilty plea to statutory rape on a 16-year-old girl. Gormley served 120 days in a sex offender prison program before his probation in the first case but was given no prison time in the second case.
The Gormley case is not the first time Judge Holden has issued what some consider to be a controversial sentence for a crime. In 2016, Holden sentenced convicted child molester Joseph Presley to a 30-day jail sentence and five years of probation while suspending a 10-year prison sentence. A change.org petition was created at that time calling for Holden’s removal.
Holden later sent Presley to prison for the 10 year term after a probation violation.