A Baltimore County, Maryland, police officer convicted of raping a woman and assaulting another was sentenced to home detention after a judge found that there was no “psychological injury” in one of the cases, prosecutors said Monday.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith Truffer suspended all but four years of a 15-year prison term and ordered the officer, Anthony Westerman, to serve it at home, NBC affiliate WBAL reported.
In a statement to NBC News, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said the sentence was “not appropriate” for a police officer, who “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,” he said.
Westerman, who had pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree rape, second-degree assault and other crimes, was convicted in August, court records show.
He was arrested in 2019 after two women accused him of rape. In one case from 2017, a woman said that after she drank too much, Westerman offered to arrange an Uber ride home. She told authorities that she passed out and awoke to him raping her at his house.
He was acquitted in the second rape, the Baltimore Sun reported, and convicted of forcibly kissing a third woman.
Prosecutors had asked that Westerman serve five to 10 years in prison, but he received a lighter sentence after the judge removed a count of second-degree rape and found that the victim had not suffered psychological injury, Shellenberger said.
In a statement to WBAL, prosecutors challenged the finding, arguing that the judge himself had described what happened to the woman as "maybe the most traumatic moment of her life" and pointing out that she had been to therapy.
A lawyer for Westerman, Brian Thompson, said by email that his client was "relieved" that the judge had ordered home confinement.
"We believe that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence," he said. "This was a 'he said, she said' case in which everyone was intoxicated."
Thompson added that he planned to appeal the conviction.
Westerman, who joined the department in 2013 and was placed on unpaid suspension after being charged, was fired after his sentencing, a department spokeswoman said.
In a statement, police chief Melissa Hyatt pointed to the department's own investigation of Westerman as an “example of our commitment to holding individuals responsible for their actions.”