Ex-CU student convicted of rape, who prosecutors said got light sentence, released 1 year early

Wilkerson sentenced to 2-year work release in jail
Posted at 12:38 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 01:12:49-04

BOULDER, Colo. – A man convicted of raping a woman while he was a student at the University of Colorado has been released from the Boulder County jail after serving one of two years of in-house work release, jail records show.

Prosecutors and others had already been critical of the judge in Austin Wilkerson’s case. He received a 2-year work release sentence with 20 years-to-life of supervised sex offender probation after he was convicted of raping another CU student after a party in 2014.

The victim identified herself publicly as Kendra Heuer when she was named one of PEOPLE Magazine’s 25 Women Changing The World after she spoke out about Wilkerson’s sentence.

Denver7 reached out to her friend Brittney Westphal who is also a sexual assault survivor. The two women connected after they both went public with their stories. In April they started the Sexual Assault Survivors Support Group, based in Boulder.

"When these sentences are given to such heinous crimes you’re really speaking to a community that this is ok, this behavior is acceptable and that’s not right," said Westphal.

Heuer said after the trial that the sexual assault had “ruined [her] socially” because she was “too scared to be in situations that remind [her] of sexual assault.”

She’d said that in the months after assault that she had experience severe panic attacks that required she be hospitalized.

Wilkerson raped her after a party on St. Patrick’s Day 2014—after telling friends that he was going to take care of her. She woke up with no recollection, and court records showed Wilkerson told friends she had been “passed out” when he assaulted her.

Wilkerson apologized in court when he was sentenced, but prosecutors said he had “given whatever version of the story is best going to serve him.” When Wilkerson was sentenced, deputy district attorney Lisa Saccomano said the office was “obviously disappointed” by the two-year work release sentence, which was to be served at the Boulder County jail.

County jail records show Wilkerson was first jailed after his sentence on Aug. 10 of last year. But they also show that the last day he was in jail was Aug. 11 of this year—which would be just more than a year since he was sentenced to two years of jail work release.

The Aug. 11 jail listing records show his release date is set as Aug. 12, and the Aug. 12 record shows he was no longer in custody.

Cmdr. Mike Wagner, a spokesman with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Denver7 Tuesday that Wilkerson had been released at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12.

He said Wilkerson served 367 days of his 730-day sentenced, and was granted 363 days of good time since he had no management problems in jail.

Wagner said Wilkerson de-registered as a sex offender in Boulder County, and told the jail he planned on moving to Morrison. He has until the end of the week to register as a sex offender in Morrison/Jefferson County. Records show Wilkerson's parents live in Morrison.

Wilkerson’s original sentence came shortly after a fellow CU student sent a letter to the judge in his case comparing the case to that of Brock Turner, a Stanford student who received what many said was a lenient sentence after he raped an unconscious woman.

Below is the state law that refers to good time releases:

(12) Persons sentenced to the county jail as a direct sentence or sentenced to the county jail as a condition of probation who are permitted to participate in work, educational, medical release, home detention, or day reporting programs pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall receive one day credit against their sentences for each day spent in such programs. As used in this section, "day reporting program" means an alternative correctional sentence wherein a defendant is allowed to serve his or her sentence by reporting daily to a central location wherein the defendant is supervised in court-ordered activities.