Compassion for a young criminal defendant is not a terrible thing. But the objective of the justice system is to keep it in perspective, to weigh the punishment’s impact on the defendant against the damage caused by his crime.
That was turned on its head in a California courtroom last week, when a judge issued a bewildering, lenient sentence against a man who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner, 20, to six months in the county jail and three years of probation. After a three-week trial, Mr. Turner was convicted of assault with the intent to commit rape and two other serious sex crimes.
Mr. Turner was a freshman at Stanford University, an All-American swimmer and an Olympic hopeful, when on Jan. 18, 2015, two Swedish graduate students at Stanford encountered him assaulting an unconscious young woman behind a campus fraternity house.
The prosecutor had asked for a sentence of six years in a state prison.
The case drew a great deal of attention because of Mr. Turner’s status as an elite athlete. His father, Dan. A Turner, sprayed gasoline on the fire with a letter telling the judge that prison would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.”
Just as remarkably, a former federal prosecutor and Turner family friend, Margaret Quinn, recommended that the judge sentence the convicted rapist to counseling other college students on the dangers of alcohol consumption.
One of the biggest problems regarding sex crimes is that many women don’t report them. Judge Persky’s slap on Mr. Turner’s wrist will make that problem worse rather than deterring sexual assault on campus or anywhere else.
Originally posted by The Times-Tribune
By The Editorial Board
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