A 23-year-old man who had been accused of raping a woman in Benton County pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor harassment charge.
Connor Bryce Bettencourt also entered a guilty plea to furnishing alcohol to a person under 21, a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors charged Bettencourt on May 2 with first-degree rape, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration and second-degree sexual abuse, according to court records. As part of a plea deal, Bettencourt pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges. In response, the state dismissed the original charges.
The harassment charge states Bettencourt subjected the victim to offensive physical contact by touching her sexually, court records state. The incident occurred in January 2015.
Benton County Circuit Court Judge David Connell accepted the plea agreement worked out by prosecutors and Bettencourt’s attorney, Mark Cogan. Connell sentenced Bettencourt to 10 days in the Benton County Jail and three years of bench probation. The judge also ordered Bettencourt to pay $1,100 in fines.
Bettencourt must also undergo sex offender treatment, as well as an alcohol evaluation and engage in any recommended treatment, Connell ordered. Bettencourt is not required to register as a sex offender.
Before the judge handed down the verdict, Deputy District Attorney Amie Matusko read a statement written by the victim.
The victim wrote that when she was 19 years old she had her life stolen from her.
“I am a survivor,” the statement read. “I chose to move on.”
“I had the one thing I can never get back stolen from me,” she wrote.
The statement went on to describe the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault.
“How do you sleep at night knowing you let a rapist walk away?” the victim wrote.
Bettencourt declined to speak prior to the judge issuing his ruling. Cogan said he felt the defense and prosecution reached “common ground” in the resolution of the case.
“These are difficult cases because of the effect this has on the victim and the tragedy that has occurred,” Connell said before stating he would accept the negotiated plea.
“It’s sadness all around,” the judge said.