Community reacts to Clark sentence

Raymond Clark III’s guilty plea to the murder and sexual assault of Annie Le GRD ’13 signals the coming end of criminal proceedings — and uneasy closure for the Yale community.

Clark, who accepted punishment for attempted sexual assault without admitting his guilt under the Alford Doctrine, is tentatively set to be sentenced on June 3 and is ineligible for parole. Although members of the Yale community expressed relief that Clark will avoid a high-profile trial for the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 under a plea bargain announced last Thursday, some question whether his 44-year prison sentence is too lenient.

The Yale administration issued a response to Clark’s guilty plea on Thursday through the Office of Public Affairs and Communications, but University President Richard Levin expressed his own thoughts on the case Monday night.

“I’m glad it’s over, and I hope the family can take comfort that the matter is resolved,” he said, declining to comment on the details of Clark’s sentence.

Thomas Pollard, dean of the Graduate School, also declined to comment on the case’s outcome, but said in an email to the News that he is relieved that the case will not “get dragged out in court.”

Like Levin and Pollard, two medical school students interviewed said they are relieved that the legal proceedings will end early. One of these students, Camille Hardiman GRD ’13, said in an email that avoiding a trial will spare Le’s family and minimize the release of any “horrific details.”

“Even the hearing for the plea bargain revealed pretty graphic details, things that we don’t need to hear any more about,” Hardiman said. “Let him start serving his time already.”

One member of the medical school faculty said he is particularly troubled by newly revealed details of sexual assault. He also questioned why none of the faculty who had worked with Le were ever informed of these facts before Thursday’s hearing. The faculty member said he ultimately defers to the Le family’s wishes — state prosecutors consulted with her family and fiancée during the plea bargain process — but added that he is personally troubled by the deal.

“It just bothered me — 44 years,” he said. “How do you compare years to Annie’s life? And then you have this added component [of attempted sexual assault]. I just feel terrible for her family.”

The faculty member said he had met Le, but requested to remain anonymous, citing professional considerations.

Because Clark pleaded guilty to both murder and sexual assault, suggesting a motive for the crime, the guilty plea has reduced the fears of random murder on Yale’s campus, said Evan Wilson-Wallis, who works in a medical school lab.

“If he had a motive, then I feel more comfortable that some random stranger isn’t going to kill me,” Wilson-Wallis said. “I feel safer around campus.”

Three other students and staff members interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the length of Clark’s sentence.

Deanna Roderick, an administrative assistant at the medical school, said she thinks it is too lenient.

“I feel like he probably had a really good lawyer,” Roderick said.

Clark was represented by public defenders Beth Merkin and Joseph Lopez. Merkin told the News after the guilty plea that she believed her client could not have received a better sentence than 44 years in prison, and that he probably would have fared worse in a criminal trial.

Clark was employed as lab technician at 10 Amistad St., the same Yale building where Le worked.

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