Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

Supreme Court won’t hear case of man serving 35 years for Limestone County rape

Austin Clem

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. — The Alabama Supreme Court has decided not to hear the case of a convicted rapist whose case gained national attention when he didn’t initially get jail time.

The court didn’t issue a written opinion when it denied a hearing  on Austin Clem’s probation revocation case Friday. Clem was sent to prison in 2017 after authorities said he violated his probation.

Clem, 30, was convicted of rape in September 2013. The judge in the case sentenced him to serve two years of community corrections and three years of probation. Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones appealed the sentence, saying Clem should serve time in prison.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to a resentencing for Clem. At his second sentencing, the same judge sentenced him to 15 years for first-degree rape and two 10-year sentences for two counts of second-degree rape. But Judge James Woodruff only ordered Clem to time served and five years of probation. Jones decided not to pursue the case further after talking to the victim’s family.

Clem had avoided prison again, but he was arrested in May 2017 and charged with theft by deception after authorities said he took money for car repairs that he didn’t perform. Clem’s probation on the rape convictions was revoked and he was ordered to serve the full 35 years in prison he had been sentenced to.

Clem has served a year and a half of his sentence in the Limestone County Jail. He is eligible for parole in 2032, according to state prison records.