Balancing the scales of justice is a complex, difficult and thankless task, the imposing of a sentence often pleasing one side while disappointing another. Those who sit in judgment of others are in that position for a reason. Thus, we rarely question sentences handed down by judges, regardless of how much outrage is circulating in the community and on social media.
Still, the sentence received by David R. Logsdon on Wednesday seems awfully light. Logsdon, 34, was sentenced to 15 years with all but one year suspended after he was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor. And that year will not be spent in prison or at the Carroll County Detention Center, but, rather, the court ordered he be released to home detention.
No jail time for engaging in sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old, who was at the time in his care as he was tasked as her driving instructor. After Logsdon’s release, he will serve five years supervised probation and must register for life as a sex offender. Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Amy Blank Ocampo had asked for active incarceration within the sentencing guidelines of four to nine years.
Judge Thomas Stansfield, who presided over the sentencing hearing in the Circuit Court of Carroll County, said imposing a sentence in cases that involve a first-time offender who had committed a serious offense is challenging. His policy, though not shared by every judge, is to sentence first-time offenders to seek treatment to rectify their criminal behavior, he said.
“History has taught us that the prison system does not rehabilitate criminal behavior,” he said.
While we can understand, perhaps even agree, with that as a general philosophy, sentencing, even of first-time offenders, is not just about rehabilitation. It’s also about punishment. And deterrence. And it should be about justice for victims. While this sentence will give an opportunity for rehabilitation, it’s hard to see how it exacts commensurate retribution, how it deters recidivism or others from committing the same type of crime, or how it attains justice.
Janice Kispert, CEO of Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County, told us the sentence feels frustratingly light from the point of view of an advocate. “I think this is re-victimizing the victim,” she said.
The victim in this case gave a victim impact statement, saying she suffers psychological damage that is “irreversible.” She said she has graphic nightmares and fears retaliation for speaking up about the assault. She also described how embarrassing and agonizing it has been to hear the facts of the case repeated and having to open up about them again.
Kispert told us when sexual crimes result in a light sentence, it can be a disincentive to other victims to talk about what happened to them. It’s easy to imagine someone learning about this person’s agony at reliving a traumatic experience and then deciding it just isn’t worth going through the process if the offender will just wind up with a sentence like this one.
Logsdon said Wednesday in court that he feels remorse and regret, and that he hopes to take time for self-reflection and growth. We hope that Logsdon takes advantage of this opportunity and eventually becomes a productive, law-abiding member of society.
More than that, however, we hope the victim in this case is able to continue in her recovery from what she went through and eventually find peace. We also hope she doesn’t regret coming forward. Regardless of the light sentence, Logsdon is guilty and paying a price. Finally, a reminder that Rape Crisis can be reached at any time by calling 410-857-7322 for free and confidential counseling services.