SPRINGFIELD, Mo. For the second time in three years a former Ozark restaurant owner has been convicted of rape yet avoided a lengthy prison sentence.
In 2016 Beau Gormley pleaded guilty to the statutory rape of a 16 year-old girl in 2014 in the kitchen of a restaurant he owned in Ozark, the 3rd Street Pasta and Grill.
Gormley was sentenced to a 120-day sex offender program, then released on probation.
But a short time later he was accused of raping a woman in Greene County that did include some consensual sexual contact.
That case went to trial and Gormley was found guilty.
"This defendant, who has a prior conviction for having sex with a 16 year-old employee, 34 days after he was released from the sex offender assessment unit, raped the mother of his children," said Greene Co. prosecuting attorney Dan Patterson.
But despite his second rape conviction in three years, this past Friday Judge Calvin Holden sentenced Gormley to five years probation after his probation officer and sex abuse program counselor testified that Gormley was making progress in his counseling.
"So the judge was able to hear from somebody who has expertise in this type of treatment, who has supervised and treated him for quite some time, and came to a conclusion that continuity under these circumstances was going to be warehousing him in a prison," explained Gormley's defense attorney Jason Coatney.
That decision has sparked outrage on social media including a post by Greene Co. prosecutor Dan Patterson with a Ronald Reagan quote that "We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It's time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
Gormley's defense attorney feels Patterson's commentary was inappropriate.
"Going out in the public and saying 'It's all the judges fault what happened here and he's blaming society at large' is irresponsible," Coatney said of the posted statement.
Patterson countered that he has commented on the outcome of cases before and doesn't feel there was anything wrong about disagreeing with the outcome in this one either.
"I think it's appropriate that we have a discussion in our community about whether this type of thing deserves punishment," Patterson replied.
Cases like this though are a cause for concern at the Victim Center, which provides counseling, crisis intervention and advocacy for sexual abuse victims.
"Sometimes the outcomes from decisions that are made in the courtroom is that people feel jaded and skeptical that they'll be able to find justice for themselves," explained Brandi Bartel, the executive director of the Victim Center.
So the fear is that some victims may not report their abuse because they feel they will never get justice.
"It takes a tremendous amount of courage but then ultimately they don't see that accountability taking place and that is extremely discouraging," Bartel said.