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Molly Shattuck sentencing: Is 48 weekends for rape too light a sentence?

Molly Shattuck sentencing: The former NFL cheerleader and mother of three was found guilty of raping a 15-year-old boy. Shattuck got a maximum 15-year sentence but will serve every other weekend at probation center. 

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    Molly Shattuck, second from right, arrives at the Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown, Del., for sentencing, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Molly Shattuck has been sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to raping a 15-year-old boy at a vacation rental home in Delaware. The 48-year-old collapsed to her knees after she was sentenced Friday morning and wept as she apologized.
    (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun via AP
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Former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Molly Shattuck was sentenced Friday to two years of probation, with every other weekend in custody, after pleading guilty to raping a 15-year-old boy at a vacation rental home in Delaware.

Shattuck, often gasping for breath and sometimes weeping uncontrollably during the hearing, collapsed to her knees in the courtroom after she was sentenced.

Judge E. Scott Bradley sentenced the mother of three to the maximum 15-year prison term for fourth-degree rape but suspended the prison time for probation. Shattuck, 48, must report every other weekend, for a total of 48 weekends, to a secure probation center, where offenders live in communal barracks and are assigned to various chores and community service projects. Shattuck's children range in age from 12 to 16.

She must register as a sex offender, continue therapy and undergo sex disorder counseling. She also must bear the costs of the victim's therapy and pay $10,650 restitution to his parents, who urged Bradley to put Shattuck behind bars.

"What she did to my son is heinous. ... She stole his innocence," said the victim's mother, adding that her son has become somber and untrusting of others.

The boy's father said the family has struggled to come to grips with what happened, noting that Shattuck reached out to the boy through her own 15-year-old son, whose message was: "Call my mom. She thinks you're hot."

The Associated Press is not naming the parents to avoid identifying the teen. The AP generally does not name victims of sexual assault.

Shattuck, crying so hard at times that her words were indiscernible, apologized to the victim's family.

"I take full responsibility for what I did. I never, ever, ever intended, obviously, to hurt anybody," she said. "I will spend the rest of my life making this right."

Shattuck pleaded guilty in June to one felony count of fourth-degree rape. She entered the plea just days before her scheduled trial on two counts of the more serious charge of third-degree rape, four counts of unlawful sexual contact, and three counts of providing alcohol to minors.

The teen, a classmate of one of Shattuck's children at the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland, told police last September that Shattuck began an inappropriate relationship with him near Baltimore and that it culminated with sexual activity at a vacation rental home in Bethany Beach over Labor Day weekend. The indictment alleged that Shattuck provided alcohol to three boys under the legal drinking age on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 of last year and that she had sexual contact with one boy on or about Aug. 31.

"This was not a momentary lapse in judgment," said prosecutor John Donahue, who argued for prison time for Shattuck. "She groomed him, seduced him, supplied him with alcohol, then took advantage of him, all for her own gratification."

Defense attorney Eugene Maurer asked for leniency, saying Shattuck "has had struggles throughout her life," which included her former husband leaving her for a younger woman.

"It was a pretty devastating blow to her psyche," he said.

"The press has reveled in her fall from prominence in the Baltimore area," added Maurer, who described Shattuck as "a caring, empathetic, good and decent person."

Shattuck was divorced in November from Mayo Shattuck, former CEO of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Nuclear Group and current chairman of Chicago-based Exelon Corp. Exelon, which has electric and gas utilities in Maryland, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, now owns Constellation.

In 2005, Shattuck became the oldest NFL cheerleader in history up to that time, winning a spot on the Ravens squad on her first tryout. She cheered for two years and was a part-time coach for six more years.

Shattuck also has worked as a fitness consultant and advocate, publishing a book called "Vibrant Living" last year.

After her arrest, Shattuck resigned as a board member of the Baltimore School for the Arts, a public high school.

Raeann Warner, a Delaware attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said she was surprised that Shattuck was not given any prison time.

"It just seems light ... and not in accord with sentences in cases involving less heinous sexual acts that were committed by males," Warner said. "I hope it's not because she's a woman."

 Lisae C. Jordan, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, called it "totally inappropriate."

"It's certainly a significant accommodation to a defendant to allow a sentence to be served on weekends, much less every other weekend," she told The Baltimore Sun.

Maurer said he did not think gender played a role in the sentence.

"I would hope not. ... I think that the notion that boys, or young boys, are happy about this kind of thing, I think that's a misguided notion and it's a relic of past thinking. I don't think the sex of the victim had anything to do with the sentence."

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