Brock Turner, a 20-year-old Stanford University student with a swimming scholarship and a possible future in the Olympics, got what many are now calling a slap on the wrist for sexually assaulting a young woman at a fraternity party. He faced up to 14 years in prison – all he got was six months in jail, three years of probation, and must also register for life as a sex offender.
Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, in handing out the sentence of six months in jail, said a “stiffer sentence might have a severe impact” on the 20-year-old. The light sentence has sparked widespread fury on social media, with many calling for the judge to be removed from the bench.
At the fraternity party in January 2015, Turner was found by two other students sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. They stopped him and called police, who said the woman was unresponsive and partially clothed.
Turner’s father defended him. “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Dan A. Turner wrote in a letter arguing that his son should receive probation, not jail time. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” “He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” the letter says.
“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression,” the father wrote. “You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite steak for him. … Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.”
The victim read a statement in court prior to Turner’s sentencing. Her letter begins by bluntly addressing her attacker. “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” she read in court.
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” the 23-year-old woman said. “The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on: I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”
She then described how she decided to attend a party so she could spend time with her younger sister. “I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college,” she said. “The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person…”
She told in painful detail of being examined at the hospital after the rape, then said, “After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
She added: “Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue.”
“You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore,” she said of his conviction. “You have been convicted of violating me with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things.”
Turner is appealing his conviction.
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