A Donald Trump supporter who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and then bragged about her “infamy” in an Instagram post was sentenced to one month behind bars and a year of supervised release on Friday.
Gracyn Courtright, who was a senior at the University of Kentucky when she joined the mob at the Capitol, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper. Courtright pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of unlawfully and knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds in August. Images show her walking about the Capitol with a wooden “Members only” sign that she eventually turned over to a law enforcement officer after being ordered to do so.
“Infamy is just as good as fame. Either way I end up more known. XOXO,” she posted after the riot. “Can’t wait to tell my grandkids i was here!” she posted with photos of her at the Capitol.
“I thought it was cool,” she wrote in a private message to another Instagram user who confronted her about her conduct. “idk what treason is.”
On Friday, Courtright broke down in tears at her sentencing hearing. At first, she was unable to get through her statement, and was checked out by a nurse. When the hearing resumed, Courtright read her prepared statement while seated.
“I have so much shame from this,” Courtright told Cooper. “I will never be the same girl again, this has changed me completely.”
Courtright said she hates having to introduce herself to new people because she has to say her name out loud. She called Jan. 6 the biggest mistake of her life, and said she would do anything to go back and never go to D.C.
“I will forever have to fear applying for jobs knowing the instant they Google my name they will not see the hardworking student who had been on the dean’s list. They will not see the girl that I know that I still am. They will only see the girl who trespassed in the nation’s Capitol and took pictures to prove she was there and posted pictures thinking she was just so cool,” Courtright said.
Courtright said she didn’t realize that she had entered the floor of the Senate, and had “no idea” what side of the building she was on. When she went home, she said, she looked up pictures of the Senate and House floors to see what they looked like.
Courtright said that her comments on Instagram came when she was trying to defend herself after people criticized her actions on Jan. 6.
“I just couldn’t take any more of the people telling me I was a horrible person, I just wanted to defend myself,” she said through tears. “But, like, I understand that I am a horrible person.”
Unlike other Capitol defendants who entered the floor of the Senate, Courtright did not face felony charges because law enforcement did not discover the footage of her in the chamber until after she pleaded guilty. Had she been charged with a felony offense, federal prosecutors say, her sentencing guidelines would have been 15 to 21 months in federal prison.
The judge noted that Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed while climbing through a broken window and trying to enter the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House chamber, was killed at the same time that Courtright was entering the building.
“She was on the House side trying to climb through a window, you went in on the Senate side,” Cooper said. “Did you know what was on the other side of some of those doors that some people were trying to break down? You see my point. That could’ve been you.”
Cooper asked Courtright if she knew how many people died on Jan. 6, and if she knew how many officers died by suicide after the Capitol attack.
“Was it cool to have been there?” he asked.
“No,” Courtright replied.
Cooper noted that many of the young congressional staffers who feared for their lives on Jan. 6 were around Courtright’s age.
“There were some folks just about your age, congressional staffers who were on the other side of those doors, thinking they had to call their family, because this may be it,” Cooper said. “You probably saw enough to know that this wasn’t a simple, peaceful protest.”
Cooper also expressed confusion that Courtright didn’t even vote in 2020.
“In my view, if you or any citizen for that matter wants to participate in democracy ... casting an informed vote is the price of admission, that’s the ticket to ride,” he said. “It’s not sports, it’s certainly not resorting to violence when your team doesn’t win the game.”
The FBI has made more than 700 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and hundreds more arrests are in the works. The online sleuths investigating the Jan. 6 attack have found that more than 2,500 people entered the Capitol, and the FBI’s Capitol Violence website features more than 350 people wanted for serious offenses who have not yet been arrested.