Background on the Stanford Rape Case
Brock Turner, a Stanford student and elite swimmer, sexually assaulted an unconscious woman and was convicted of three felony sex offenses, including assault with intent to commit rape. The victim, still anonymous and not a Stanford student, was found half-naked behind a dumpster. She had attended a fraternity party with her sister earlier that night. The victim woke up with no memory of events and learned the details of her assault from the media.
Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner to only six months in prison and three years probation, ignoring the statutory minimum sentence of two years. Turner will serve out his sentence in a county jail and will likely only serve three months. He must also register as a sex offender.
The victim’s statement was obtained by the press and immediately went viral due to its powerful story. Read her statement here.
Dan Turner, Brock Turner’s father, wrote a controversial letter to the judge during sentencing. In it he said, "His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve…That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law professor and Chair of this campaign, released the letter. She has been an outspoken critic of the handling of the case.
Brock Turner is a convicted sex offender. His swim time, student status, and blood alcohol level are all irrelevant.
Why the Outrage?
Prosecutors asked that Brock Turner be sentenced to six years in prison for the January 2015 assault. The minimum sentence for his crimes was 2 years and he could have faced a maximum of 14 years. Turner was presumptively not eligible for probation under the law.
Judge Persky found that the case was "unusual" and justified sentencing Turner to probation instead of prison based primarily on the fact that Turner was an elite athlete at a top university and that alcohol was involved. He noted that a harsher punishment would have had a "severe impact" on him. The judge had to make a special exception to hand out such a light punishment.
The only thing unusual about this case is that there were eyewitnesses. Otherwise it is like the millions of other sexual assaults occurring on our college campuses every year. Virtually every campus assault involves a high-achieving perpetrator and the vast majority involve alcohol. This sentence implies that prison would never be appropriate in most campus assaults.
Judge Persky's decision is unacceptable.
Judge Persky's ruling also sends the message that campus rape is not ‘real’ rape. Rape is rape whether it happens on campus or off and whether the perpetrator is an elite athlete or not. This dangerous ruling makes all women at Stanford and at colleges across California less safe.
Judicial rulings like this discourage the reporting of these crimes, reinforce the fear that justice will not be served, and demonstrate that there are two systems of justice – one for people of privilege such as elite athletes, and one for everyone else.
The Recall Judge Aaron Persky Campaign
There’s a reason why this case has sparked national outrage. Women – and men – across the country know this ruling is an injustice and are willing to speak out on a difficult topic. Judge Persky and Brock Turner’s father fail to understand who the real victim is in this case. It’s not the attacker. It’s the innocent woman who was sexually assaulted.
We need judges who understand violence against women and take it seriously. We are hoping that Judge Persky will do the right thing and step down now, but we are preparing to recall him from office if he does not.
As often happens in judicial elections, Judge Persky is unopposed for re-election this year and the filing deadline for candidates to challenge him has passed. Recall efforts require the signatures of at least 20% of the votes in the most recent election in Santa Clara County. We expect to begin gathering signatures in June 2017 – but there is much work that needs to be done now to prepare for the campaign. Recall efforts are complicated and expensive - which is why we need your help. Please sign up as a volunteer, contribute today, or endorse the campaign to help us recall Judge Persky.