Judges hear case to review Donaldson's prison sentence


Judges hear case to review Donaldson's prison sentence 05-02-13

DEER LODGE, Mont. - A Missoula man pleaded with a panel of judges Thursday to lower his prison sentence

Former University of Montana football player Beau Donaldson is already serving the 10 years a Missoula County District Court judge handed down after Donaldson pleaded guilty to raping a friend.

"Somehow he thinks he's the one who's been punished too harshly," said Donaldson's victim who was present at the hearing in Deer Lodge.

"I don't get to go to review board and ask them to reduce that life sentence he has forced on me," she said.

The woman told the three judges from the Montana Supreme Court Sentence Review Division that she didn't want to sit in front of them at the hearing. But more than that she wanted them to know why Donaldson should serve the full 10 years.

"At the end of the day he has to be punished," she said.

Donaldson raped the woman in 2010 while she slept on his couch. He pleaded guilty in 2012 and earlier this year he was sentenced to 30 years in prison with 20 suspended in the Montana State Prison -- a sentence Donaldson and his attorney argue is too much.

They want 25 years suspended, with the remaining five years to be served with the Department of Corrections in a treatment program for drug and alcohol abuse -- a problem Donaldson has admitted. He was intoxicated and took prescription drugs the night he raped the woman.

"If I can get the opportunity to be sentenced to the Department of Corrections I can not only rehabilitate myself, but make myself a better person," Donaldson said.

Donaldson's mother and father also pleaded with the judges.

"Please, please, please look at everything, please," said Donaldson's mother.

But Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg urged the judges to stick with the original sentence.

"I'll tell you it's a little tempting to ask for more but I won't," said Van Valkenburg. "I'll just ask that you uphold the sentence that Judge Townsend imposed."

Van Valkenburg added that the case if far reaching.

"It has severely injured the University of Montana in general and he (Donaldson) is one the people principally responsible for that."

It will be up to the review division to make the final call. The job at hand is to decide if the sentence imposed in Missoula County District Court is clearly excessive or inadequate.

"The only thing that is excessive in this case is the amount of suffering that Beau has caused," said the victim.

The review division judges will likely have a decision in the next three weeks. They can choose to decrease the sentence but they also have the option to increase it.

Last year, in two separate sexual assault cases they increased sentences.

NBC Montana will keep you updated.

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