Woman gets five years in statutory rape case

Wednesday, September 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:33 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 4, 2008

A 20-year-old Columbia woman was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree statutory rape.

Courtney Ann Snyder was charged with repeated sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy between July and October 2002. The boy, a neighbor identified as B.H., sometimes baby-sat for Snyder’s son, who is now 2 years old.

During her sentencing, a tearful Snyder apologized to the boy’s parents for her actions.

“I didn’t understand how far this would go, or how many people I’d hurt just from this one thing,” Snyder said. “I’m extremely sorry.”

In Missouri, first-degree statutory rape is defined as sexual intercourse with another person who is less than 14 years old. Punishment can range from five years to life in prison.

Snyder’s attorney, Bill Ott, argued for a suspended sentence, saying Snyder had no prior criminal history, is a graduate of massage therapy school and is currently employed. He also asked the court to consider Snyder’s young son, who was present at her sentencing.

But Judge Ellen Roper, while acknowledging that the defendant had no prior legal problems, said she was bound by the state statute, which makes no gender distinctions, to sentence Snyder to the five-year minimum.

“I have to consider this case just like I would a 20-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl,” Roper said.

Assistant Prosecutor Connie Millican Sullivan said both she and the victim were satisfied with the sentence.

According to Sullivan, there is no option for appeal on a guilty plea.

Snyder was taken into custody after sentencing and transported to the Missouri Department of Corrections. She was allowed to hug her overall-clad 2-year-old before being led away. Snyder’s parents, also present at the hearing, took custody of her son.

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