Brock Allen Turner, the ex-Stanford University swimmer who was convicted in March of three felony sex abuse charges, was sentenced last week to just six months in county jail.
With good behavior, he could be released in three months or less.
In the aftermath of Turner's sentencing, outrage has been mounting. More than 210,000 people have signed a petition calling for Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky to be removed from the bench over the “lenient” sentence.
“Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency,” the Change.org petition stated. “He also failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors.”
Turner has "shown no remorse” since his conviction, the petition added. The 20-year-old plans to appeal.
In a court statement, the defendant's father Dan Turner said imprisonment was not the “appropriate punishment” for his son, who he said had already paid “a steep price ... for 20 minutes of action.”
In response to the sentencing, Stanford law professor Michele Dauber launched a website to recall Persky.
“He has made women at Stanford and across California less safe,” Dauber told The Guardian.
In a video released by Fusion this week, Stanford students reacted to the news of Turner’s sentence.
“It makes me lose a lot of faith in our justice system,” Megan Calfas said in the clip.
Turner was arrested on Jan. 18, 2015 after two Stanford graduate students who were cycling by a Kappa Alpha party spotted him “thrusting his hips atop an unconscious woman lying on the ground.”
One of the grad students, Peter Jonsson, allegedly shouted at Turner, prompting him to jump off the woman. Jonsson then pursued Turner, who ran from the scene.
The victim, whose blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit, was found partially clothed with blood on the backs of her hands and “abrasions, lacerations and dirt in [her] genitalia.” She was reportedly unconscious for at least three hours.
“You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol,” said the victim, now 23, in a statement read in court. “Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.”
A lenient sentence, she added, would be “a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence … Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence.”
In justifying Turner’s sentence, Persky said that Turner's age and lack of criminal history factored into his decision.
“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” said Persky. “I think he will not be a danger to others.”
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he strongly disagreed with Persky's ruling, which he called “unjust.” However, in a statement made on Monday, Rosen stopped short of calling for the judge's removal.
“While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case, I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship,” Rosen said.
In her statement, the victim said she understood why leniency may be considered given that this is Turner's first offense. But, she stressed, “as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error.”
Few reports of sexual assault ever lead to prosecution. National estimates suggest that for every 100 rapes, only five rapists go to prison.
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.