Six months in jail is an appallingly weak sentence for destroying a life.
Because that’s what 20-year-old Brock Turner did when he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman he met at a Stanford University fraternity party and abandoned her, motionless and half-naked, against a Dumpster.
In his wake, he left not only pine needles in her hair and vagina, but fear, uncertainty and mistrust. Fear of men and of a legal system overseen by a judge whose excuse for imposing a limp sentence is: “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”
The nation’s attention is focused on the case because of the paltry sentence and the victim’s eloquent 7,244-word impact statement, now viral on the internet. In it she talks about the role of privilege and how this “is not the story of another drunk college hook-up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”
Dan Turner’s defense of his son — saying he should not go to prison for “20 minutes of action” — revealed more about Brock Turner than his father intended. Dan Turner said his son suffered from depression and anxiety after the trial. Brock was punished enough because he must register as a sex offender and no longer has an appetite for the “big ribeye steak” Dad used to grill for him.
Cue the tears.
Could anyone possibly be so callous? So tone-deaf? What if the victim had been his daughter? Does he not have empathy for the woman and her family, whose lives will never be the same?
There are, sadly, no adequate answers. The nation can reel in disgust, but the sentence against Brock Turner will stand.
Fortunately, a recall effort is being waged against Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Turner last week. By Wednesday, more than 350,000 people had signed a recall petition.
Persky had choices. A jury in March found Turner guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault. He faced a maximum 14 years in prison, and prosecutors had asked for six years. Turner is expected to serve three months in a county jail and remain on probation for three years.
His college career and promising future have suffered, deservedly so. He dropped out of Stanford, where he was a champion swimmer said to be headed for the Olympics.
This case is a wake-up call for the nation. The legal system, especially as it applies in college environments, fails to consistently treat sexual assault as a serious crime. Vicious defense lawyers find ways to blame the victims, with court acquiescence.
Judges are the last bastion against such injustice, making clear that a woman too impaired to move or speak cannot possibly consent to “sex.” Make sure rapists get the punishment they deserve.
Originally posted by The Colombia Missourian
By St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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