Grand Jury Indicts Officer
(TN) – Deputy Brian Beck was accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl over almost a two year period. In 2018 a grand jury handed down two indictments for rape and two for sexual battery by an authority figure against Deputy Beck.
Beck was arrested and his bail was set at $125,000. It seems that Beck was not able to pay that amount. Just a few days later it was lowered to $90,000 which he paid and was released from jail. Beck was terminated from the sheriff’s office.
Then the case sat while requests for resets and the pandemic interfered with trials.
Prosecutors Give Deputy Sweetheart Plea Deal
On Friday we learned the outcome of the case. “Beck would have been facing up to 90 years in prison had he been convicted of the four counts contained in an original grand jury indictment.” But that’s not what happened. Prosecutors dropped one of the rape charges and both of the sexual battery charges. That left one rape charge. Instead of following through with the one charge, they lowered that charge to aggravated assault.
Notice that those changes take away all aspects of this being a sexual crime. By doing that, they ensured that Brian Beck would not have to register as a sex offender. And the aggravated assault charge carries a four year sentence. Beck went from a possible 90 years in jail to a maximum of four years in jail. But the system wasn’t finished protecting this law enforcement officer.
Judge Sentences Officer to Probation
It seems Judge Lee Coffee wanted an even more lenient outcome for Deputy Beck. He did not accept the four year sentence for aggravated assault. Instead, he reduced the sentence to three years of probation and 150 hours of community service.
The judge’s order, in essence a perfunctory form document with boxes to check and a few blank lines to fill, offers but a glimpse into the reasoning behind the moves.
The document says “the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct” — at least “to the satisfaction of the Court” — and that “the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the Defendant shall presently suffer the penalty imposed by law by incarceration.”
Even though the deputy is accused of repeatedly raping the minor, the judge decided he probably won’t do something like that again. Then he goes on to say society does not require that Beck suffer the penalty of incarceration. While legal, this is still warping the way our justice system is supposed to work. Sadly, Judge Coffee is not the first judge who felt just being accused was enough punishment for a man who committed rape.
Prosecutors’ Excuse for Plea Deal
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said Monday in a statement: “Given the totality of evidence, we ethically could not proceed to trial on the indicted offenses. The decision was made in consultation with the victim.”
This statement is concerning. The evidence for the crime would have been placed before the grand jury. The grand jury felt there was sufficient evidence to indict Beck. Is the district attorney saying that not all of the evidence was shown to the grand jury or is she saying the grand jury acted unethically? Either one would be problematic.
The comment regarding consulting with the victim sounds fair, but what was the family told? Did they have prosecutors who did not want an officer to go to jail, telling them this was the best they could get? I have to suspect so. These are the people who are supposed to be fighting for the victim. Naturally, the family will want to believe them. Those prosecutors are saying they could not go to trial on those indictments. Yet the grand jury saw something different.
The Injustice System
47-year-old Brian Beck caught a lot of breaks. Deputy Beck couldn’t pay his bail so it was lowered. He only got three years of probation for raping a minor. He got the benefit of the doubt that he would never do it again even though he was charged with raping her multiple times. Beck only has to give up 150 hours of his time to do some piddly community service. Probably the harshest penalties for him are that he can no longer own a gun or be a law enforcement officer again.
This is not justice. The system worked to protect the abuser and revictimized the victim and it’s far from being a unique situation.