Few explanations after man gets 3 years in prison for statutory rape

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After pleading guilty to statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl on Halloween night 2017, a DeKalb County man was sentenced earlier this month to three years in prison — several years below what the state recommends for the crime.

Dale Antonio Davis, 50, was arrested in December 2017, months after he approached the girl, placed a bag over her head, drove her to a house and raped her on Halloween night, initial arrest warrants said.

Davis pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 12 in Judge Mark Anthony Scott’s courtroom to serve three years in prison and seven years on probation. But according to Georgia law, people over 21 who are convicted of statutory rape should be punished “by imprisonment” for between 10 and 20 years. The law allows courts to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences, or turn some of the sentence into years of probation.

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Neither the DA, public defender nor the judge has commented on why Davis was only indicted on the statutory rape charge and his sentence negotiated so that he must serve three years in prison.

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In a statement, DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said the sentence was determined through a negotiated plea deal. She said her office “conducted a thorough investigation of the facts, circumstances, and evidence,” and had extensive conversations with the victim’s family.

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"The sentence is within the legal sentencing range for a statutory rape charge," she said.

The DA’s office did not say if there was a specific circumstance that led to the shorter sentence, but noted “All parties were amenable to this resolution.”

Neither the Georgia Public Defender Council nor Davis’ attorney Richard Silver, who works for the DeKalb public defender’s office, would comment on the specifics of the case. Silver, however, acknowledged that generally, mandatory minimum sentences do not have to be served entirely in prison, so Davis’ total 10-year sentence falls within the state’s recommendations.

Judge Scott did not respond to requests for comment.

The attack happened off Waldrop Road between 10 p.m. on Halloween night and the next morning at 4:30 a.m., The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2017. According to the initial warrants, the girl said she tried to fight off Davis, who she said she didn’t know, but he wouldn’t stop. She later asked two men for help and they flagged down an officer.

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Davis was initially charged with rape, kidnapping, simple battery and child molestation. But only a charge of statutory rape was presented to a grand jury for Davis’ indictment, according to court records.

In his prison sentence, Davis was credited with the time he has served in jail, meaning he may be released from prison next year.

As part of his sentence, Davis must also register as a sex offender and have no contact with the victim.

Brooks Hunnicutt, who works with the Atlanta-based Crime Victims Advocacy Council and runs support programs for sexual assault survivors, said she is not familiar with the details of the case, but said she was surprised by Davis’ sentence.

“I think three years is a bit light for me,” she said. “I would probably try to get the maximum sentence.”

An offense like this can affect the victim for the rest of their life, so “it’s really important for the abuse survivors to be able to have guidance and therapy to help them,” Hunnicutt said.

When Davis was arrested, he was out on a $5,000 bond for a misdemeanor charge in a family violence case. In July 2017, months before the rape on Halloween night, he was charged with battery and two courts of third-degree child cruelty.

The family violence case remains open, court records show.

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