NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York woman who pleaded guilty to sex with a man in a car and pleaded guilty last week to a sexual offense in a subway car was sentenced to three months in jail on Friday.
A judge in Manhattan said that while the woman’s crime was not “a violent act,” the act violated the defendant’s rights.
She is also required to complete a sex offender treatment program, according to court records.
The woman, identified in court records only as Samantha, pleaded guilty in February to the crime in a Brooklyn subway car, according the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
She was sentenced in March to three years in prison.
Prosecutors did not immediately return a request for comment on the judge’s decision.
The case has sparked criticism from politicians and other rights advocates, who say the case unfairly targets the poor.
A law passed in 2015 makes it a crime to have sex in public, which has also led to widespread sex abuse accusations.
“If Samantha were to have been charged for a crime of rape in the subway car that night, she would have been subject to a sentence of between five and six months,” said Jana White, a law professor at Brooklyn College who is also president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
White also said that the woman is in a very vulnerable position.
“She has no means to pay a lawyer,” she said.
“If she gets her sentence reduced, the person who raped her will not be able to collect a penny from her.”
In February, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the case would be prosecuted as a sex offense, and that a judge would consider a sentence that would be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime.
The governor also ordered Samantha’s parole revoked, and she was banned from the city and its subway system for five years.
White said the case could have significant implications for future crimes, and it could put pressure on other states to consider the severity of sexual abuse crimes.
The sentence was less than what a man convicted of sexual assault in New York would receive for the crime, White said.
“This is the first step toward making New York the state that is going to take this problem seriously,” White said, adding that it could lead to similar decisions by other states.
The Associated Press