Unless you have been living under a rock - or at the very least, haven't checked Facebook or Twitter lately - then you've heard about the troubling legal case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner. Turner, who recently turned 20 years old, was convicted of three felonies on March 30th of this year: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
These convictions all stem from the night of January 18th, 2015, when Turner, then a 19-year-old Stanford freshman, was arrested for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford campus. Turner was caught by two students who witnessed the rape, and sprung into action, chasing Brock Turner and tackling him to the ground until police arrived. The victim was extremely intoxicated and could not remember most of the evening, much less giving Turner consent - while she was literally unconscious and unresponsive, mind you. Turner did not deny having sex with the woman. There were witnesses. Open and shut case, right?
Well, sort of. Indeed, a jury of Brock Turner's peers quickly found him to be guilty of these extremely troubling felony crimes. However, as is the case with a majority of criminal cases in America, the sentence itself was left up to the judge. The maximum prison sentence Turner could receive was 14 years, but prosecutors only requested that Turner be sentenced to 6 years in prison. The reason that this case has become a part of national discourse is that, instead of either of those sentences, Judge Aaron Persky (a Stanford grad himself) determined that a long prison sentence would "have a severe impact" on Turner and that Turner was "not a danger to others" before granting extreme leniency and sentencing Brock Turner to a mere 6 months in prison. In fact, with good behavior, Turner could be out in just three months.
via Stanford Daily
Again, this is a man who raped an unconscious woman behind a trash dumpster. Who in his right mind thinks that a person capable of such a brutal, terrible crime is not a danger to others? Not only is Brock Turner CLEARLY a danger to women, but this case should make women all over the country feel a little more endangered as well. If, even in a case with eyewitnesses, clear signs of trauma, and a courageous, devastated victim (if you haven't yet, read the victim's statement here - it's extremely moving and extremely tragic) justice is nowhere close to being served, what are women supposed to think the outcome will be in less obvious instances of rape?
Sexual assault on college campuses is a rampant, worsening problem. The message that Brock Turner's case sends is essentially that, if a rapist is a formerly upstanding, white, upper-middle-class, All-American boy, then he will be let off from a violent sex crime with little more than a slap on the wrist. Incredibly, Turner and his father continue to think that even this punishment is too harsh, with Turner's father penning an incredibly obtuse letter - which borders on farce - in support of his son. Turner and his dad have both referred to the night of January 18th as being caused by "binge drinking and promiscuity," which is oblivious at best and malicious at worst. Both seem to think that it is Brock Turner's life that has truly been ruined, as he has watched his swimming career and academic future go down the drain because of this case. Boo. F*cking. Hoo. I'm positive that the victim in this case would trade in her college GPA and a few athletic accomplishments in order to have never been violated by this capital-R Rapist.
Brock Turner is not a young man who got drunk and made a stupid decision. We all get drunk and make stupid decisions. The difference is, that for most of us, that drunk stupidity involves breaking our iPhone screens, throwing up on the carpet, or getting a noise complaint. Raping somebody is not a drunk mistake. It's a travesty that so many in our society, apparently including Judge Persky, seem to believe that it is.
Don't forget the name Brock Turner. He claims he has had it SO hard as a result of his sickening actions. His father expresses the fear that, God forbid, Brock's sex offender status will follow him the rest of his life. It should. Let's make sure it does. Don't forget the name Brock Turner, and don't let him forget that he is rapist who deserves SO much worse than what he has been given.