Brock Turner, sex assault convict, leaves jail after serving half a 6-months sentence – Chicago Tribune
Brock Turner, whose six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at Stanford University sparked national outcry, has been released from jail after serving half his term.
The one-time Olympic hopeful swimmer walked out the main entrance of the Santa Clara County jail Friday shortly after 6 a.m. PDT. Turner, who kept his head down and didn’t acknowledge the media, got into a white SUV. He plans to head to his native Ohio to live with his parents. The 21-year-old must register as a sex offender for life and faces three years of supervised probation.
Turner’s case exploded into the spotlight when a poignant statement from the victim swept through social media and critics decried the sentence as too lenient. It prompted California lawmakers to pass a tougher sexual assault law and led to an effort to remove the judge from the bench.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Turner was given a large packet of hate mail on his release. She said he was held in “protective custody” during his incarceration, but that her department didn’t receive any credible threats. “There was a lot of hate,” she said.
Turner was convicted of assaulting the young woman near a trash bin after they drank heavily at a fraternity party in January 2015. He plans to appeal.
In the June sentencing, Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky cited the “extraordinary circumstances” of Turner’s youth, clean criminal record and other considerations. He followed the probation department’s recommendation for a “moderate” jail sentence.
Following backlash and a push for a recall, Persky voluntarily removed himself from hearing criminal cases, starting next week.
California jail inmates with good behavior typically serve half their sentences. Ohio prison officials earlier this month agreed to take over supervision of Turner’s probation.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said Turner has five days to register as a sex offender with his office in Xenia, Ohio, 15 miles east of Dayton. He will have to report to a probation officer for three years and must avoid alcohol and drugs during that time.
Fischer said his department will send postcards to Turner’s neighbors informing them that a convicted sex offender is moving in nearby. Turner will be required to register every three months in person at the sheriff’s office, reaffirming that he is still living with his parents, the sheriff said.
Deputies also will check on Turner periodically and without warning to ensure he has not moved out without permission from authorities.
Turner also is barred from parks, schools and other places where children are expected to gather.
“He will be treated no differently than any other sex offender we monitor,” Fischer said.
Q&A: WHAT’S NEXT?
A former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a fraternity house was released from jail Friday after serving half a six-month sentence that critics denounced as too lenient.
Brock Turner’s case ignited fierce debate over campus rape and the criminal justice system. It led California lawmakers to pass a tougher sexual assault law and prompted an effort to recall the judge.
The 21-year-old told authorities he plans to live with his parents in his native Ohio, where he must register as a sex offender for life. Lawyers say the requirement will make it difficult for him to find jobs and housing.
Here are some questions and answers about Turner’s impending release:
WHAT WAS TURNER’S CRIME?
Turner and the victim drank heavily at a fraternity party and left together in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2015. About 30 yards from the frat house, she passed out near a trash bin. Turner was sexually assaulting her when two graduate students passing by on bicycles confronted him, pinned him down as he tried to flee and called police. Turner, then an Olympic hopeful, unsuccessfully argued that the encounter was consensual. He was convicted of three sexual assault felonies, including digital penetration of an unconscious woman.
WHAT WAS HIS SENTENCE?
Six months in jail, three years of probation and registering as a sex offender for life. Turner faced a minimum sentence of two years in prison, and prosecutors argued for six years.
Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky cited the “extraordinary circumstances” of Turner’s youth, clean criminal record and other considerations in departing from the minimum sentence. The judge followed the probation department’s recommendation for a “moderate” jail sentence, saying prison would have a “severe impact” on Turner and he likely “will not be a danger to others.”
Critics argue the sentence minimized sexual assault on college campuses and called attention to inequality in the courts. They say Turner’s ability to hire an experienced criminal attorney set him apart from many defendants who rely on overworked public defenders.
WHY DID THE CASE GENERATE SO MUCH ATTENTION?
Buzzfeed published the victim’s powerful statement that quickly circulated on social media. She read it before Turner’s June 2 sentencing, noting probation officials took into account his lost swimming career in its recommendation to the judge.
“How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment,” the victim said. “The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”
CNN anchor Ashleigh Banford read the entire 7,200-word statement on air and members of Congress took turns reading it aloud on the House floor. Vice President Joe Biden wrote a public letter to the victim saying, “I do not know your name — but your words are forever seared on my soul.” The woman has not spoken publicly.
The furor grew after letters surfaced that Turner’s family and friends wrote urging the judge to be lenient. Turner’s father lamented that his son’s life was ruined by “20 minutes of action” and his grandparents complained that “Brock is the only person being held accountable for the actions of other irresponsible adults.”
WHY IS TURNER GETTING RELEASED AFTER ONLY THREE MONTHS?
Turner, like nearly all California jail inmates, will be released after serving half his sentence. As long as jail inmates stay out of trouble behind bars, they generally get two days of credit for every day served.
WHAT’S THE FALLOUT?