Real Estate

Harsh sentences for assaulting real estate agents not common enough

A Montana man who sexually assaulted a real estate agent while posing as an interested buyer received a 75-year sentence this week. While the long sentence is a hopeful indication that the justice system is paying attention to these horrible crimes, it also serves as a grim reminder that real estate agents need to know how to protect themselves.

It also highlights — by the fact that the harsh sentence is itself newsworthy — that long, hard jail time for attacking real estate agents is not as common as it should be.

The Montana man, Bradley Joseph Crisman, pleaded guilty to one count of felony sexual assault in January and was sentenced on Tuesday. He’s a real piece of work, too. Crisman admitted to tying up a real estate agent, who he’d lured into the empty house by claiming he and his wife were looking to buy a new home, before sexually assaulting her.

Crisman had gone through intense planning to carry out the crime, profiling six different female real estate agents in the Great Falls, Mont. area, some of whom had shown him homes. Crisman also carried duct tape and plastic zip ties with him when the victim showed him property, reported the Great Falls Tribune.

As I blogged about last month, attacks on real estate agents have become something of a common trend. Only a few weeks ago, another agent was sexually assaulted while inspecting a house in Prince George’s County, Maryland. If that man is caught, hopefully the justice system will respond in much the same way as they did in the case in Montana.

Harsh sentences for those who attack real estate agents should become the norm, not the exception. The Montana case has attracted such attention because of the unusually heavy sentence, but this shouldn’t be news at all. In large part, assaults on realtors are not crimes of opportunity. They are instead crimes that are specifically trageted because of the nature of the business: Real estate agents are alone in empty homes. Taking advantage of real estate agents in this way is, by definition, premeditation and planning – which is what the judge used as the reason for the long sentence in Montana.

The housing crisis is found on every news channel every day. It is time to also give attention to one of the problems that has come with it: Increased attacks on realtors due to the vast amount of empty homes on the market. Once the justice system starts responding appropriately to these crimes, perhaps they will begin to become less of a pattern and more of a surprise. 

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