JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Some people say a judge's interpretation of Arkansas law sends the wrong message to sexual assault victims, including the Rape Crisis Center in Jonesboro.
The Arkansas Court of Appeals reduced a Greene County level 3 sex offender's sentence on burglary charges by 20 years Wednesday.
The offender was originally charged with aggravated residential burglary but it was reduced to residential burglary.
The majority of the court found no evidence the offender intended physical injury.
As part of the ruling, a judge stated, "sexual assault does not necessarily constitute a serious physical injury."
Several people called the prosecuting attorney's office saying they were outraged with the decision.
Bridgett Rogers with the Rape Crisis Center is alarmed with the possible message. She said she is concerned about the justice system's interpretation of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault, and feels the courts sometimes downplay sexual assault.
Rogers said the process of a trial is long for the victim, which adds to the initial trauma of the assault.
"This is a long drawn out process and the victims are already experiencing the trauma that they endured that this just adds to what they are already coping with," Rogers said.
Rogers said the messages like this might be the reason some women choose not to report a rape or sexual assault.
"I think the public has a right to be outraged by that, sexual assault is the most under reported crime. Sixty-eight percent of victims do not report for various reasons including fear of the justice system," Rogers said.
The Rape Crisis Center is a section of the Family Crisis Center in Jonesboro.
Any adult victim of rape or sexual assault can seek support from the center by calling the Hotline at 870-933-9449.
Rogers said they would be with a victim through the whole process of a trial if they choose to seek justice for their assailant.
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