A six-month jail sentence for Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexual assault, has caused public outrage. His father’s letter asking the court for leniency has only fanned the flames.
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Dan A. Turner wrote in the letter asking for probation. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Turner had been convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster after both he and she attended a fraternity party.
In addition to the six-month jail term, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced 20-year-old Brock Turner to three years’ probation, ordered him to register as a sex offender and mandated that he complete a sex-offender-management program.
Turner’s father wrote that “the fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen criticized Turner’s father for comparing a sexual assault to “20 minutes of action.” He said that Turner “preyed upon” his victim and displayed violence during the assault.
Before the sentencing, the victim read the court an impact statement that has gone viral online. She said she had gone to the party to spend time with her sister.
Addressing Turner, she said: “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. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing.”
After describing in detail how hospital staff documented her injuries, she said: “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 wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
She said Turner picked her off like she was a “wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself.”
She told Turner that “you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. 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.”
She described how she had changed since the assault.
“My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty,” she said.
In a statement made after the sentence was announced, Rosen said that “the punishment does not fit the crime.”
“The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim’s ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape,” he said.
In an editorial, the San Jose Mercury News called the six-month county jail sentence a “slap on the wrist.”
“Brock Turner’s six-month jail term for sexual assault of an intoxicated, unconscious woman on the Stanford campus last year is a setback for the movement to take campus rape seriously,” the newspaper said. “If Turner’s slap on the wrist sentence is a setback, activists can take some comfort that the jurors at the trial in March saw what happened as a very serious crime.”