A Baltimore County police officer convicted of rape was allowed to remain on home detention, prosecutors announced Monday, after a judge determined at the man’s sentencing that there was “not evidence of any psychological injury to the victim,” even though the woman claimed she received therapy.
Anthony Westerman was convicted in August on multiple counts of rape, sexual offense and assault of a 22-year-old woman in 2017. Westerman, 27, who was separately convicted of assaulting another woman in 2019, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison for second-degree rape.
But Circuit Judge Keith Truffer suspended all of the sentence but four years of home detention for the 2017 conviction while Westerman pursues an appeal. Truffer also sentenced Westerman to just one day in jail for the 2019 assault, which he described as a “boorish” act, according to prosecutors.
Scott Shellenberger, the state’s attorney for Baltimore County, said in a news release that Truffer “determined that there was not evidence of any psychological injury to the victim despite the fact that she indicated she has received therapy for the attack on her and that the Judge had stated at the time of the verdict that what had happened to the victim ‘may be the most traumatic moment of’ her life.”
Shellenberger said in a statement to The Washington Post that “the sentence was not what we expected or were asking for.”
“I do not believe that in this particular case that home detention is an appropriate sentence,” he said. “A police officer should know as well or better than others the reprehensibility of such an act. I fear this could cause rape victims to hesitate to report their crimes if they do not feel like they will get justice.”
Brian Thompson, Westerman’s attorney, said it was “factually incorrect” to say the judge sentenced his client to home detention and that Westerman could still face prison time. Thompson, who described the matter as a “he said, she said case,” said the prosecution failed to submit “reasonable proof” of the victim’s psychological trauma to the court record. Westerman plans to appeal the conviction, he said.
“He maintains his innocence, and we intend to keep fighting until we clear his name,” Thompson said of Westerman. “He did not commit a crime. This was two drunk people hooking up, and it turned into an alleged crime several years later.”
A spokesperson with the Baltimore County Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Westerman, who joined the department in 2013, has been suspended without pay, prosecutors said.
The judge’s ruling comes a week after another case in which a man convicted of rape was not given prison time at his sentencing. Christopher Belter, a 20-year-old New York man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse for assaulting four teenage girls during parties at his parents’ home, will not face jail time after a judge sentenced him to eight years’ probation. Although Belter faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, Niagara County Court Judge Matthew Murphy concluded that time behind bars for the man “would be inappropriate.”
On Oct. 4, 2017, Westerman was off-duty at a bar when he told a woman that he would arrange for an Uber to take her and her friend to her friend’s home, according to court records. Instead, he had the driver take all three of them to his home, where he allegedly raped the 22-year-old woman while she was unconscious, according to prosecutors. When she awoke, she told prosecutors, Westerman was forcing himself on her. She told her friend what happened, and the pair left immediately, prosecutors say.
Thompson told The Post that the woman was conscious and that evidence presented in court shows the act was consensual.
In a separate incident in June 2019, a woman told police that Westerman grabbed her and attempted to kiss her multiple times during a birthday party at a bar until she left, according to charging documents. He was again off-duty.
The woman in the 2017 incident came forward to investigators in 2019. A third woman had also come forward to report another alleged rape, but Westerman was later acquitted of all counts related to that case, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The 2017 and 2019 cases were tried together by Truffer, a 2016 appointee of Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, without a jury. Although prosecutors asked that Westerman serve five to 10 years in prison, Shellenberger told The Post that the officer received a lighter sentence because the judge removed one count of second-degree rape and found that the victim had not suffered psychological injury.
Thompson emphasized that neither the prosecutors nor the victim formally outlined her psychological injury in court. He added that the judge has “stayed” the sentence as Westerman pursues an appeal. The defense team plans to file an appeal within 30 days, and the process is expected to take roughly a year to 18 months, he said.
While Westerman could still face prison time, Shellenberger indicated to The Post that it was unlikely to happen due to what is anticipated to be a lengthy appeals process.