Last year the two Stanford University graduate students were bicycling by when they spotted Brock Turner sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. They intervened and restrained him until police arrived. This year they were indispensable in the successful prosecution of Turner.
Still, they want to keep the focus on what happened to the victim.
Jonsson politely told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that he has decided not to give any interviews. He echoed that thought in a Facebook post the same day and urged people instead to read the lengthy statement the victim provided in court last week -- a statement that has been read millions of times since it was shared publicly on Friday.
Arndt, who did not respond to interview requests from HuffPost, has given just one on-camera interview and one newspaper interview this week, in which he described the events of that night and said he was very moved by the victim's letter.
While the two men have generally avoided media appearances, they didn't hesitate to provide testimony at trial, said Alaleh Kianerci, deputy district attorney for Santa Clara (California) County.
If they hadn't stepped in that night, Kianerci said, "we wouldn't have known who the perpetrator was. ... Obviously those two witnesses were key witnesses in securing a guilty verdict."
That's a critical point. Just 8 to 37 percent of rapes ever result in prosecution, largely because there aren't witnesses or because the victims can't recall the details of their assaults.
Jonsson and Arndt's push to keep the emphasis on the victim is especially powerful given how frequently media coverage of sexual assault cases focuses on the assailants and their backgrounds. In the statement the victim gave after Turner was sentenced to just six months in county jail, she described how she felt upon reading the press's friendly depiction of him:
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.
She also thanked Jonsson and Arndt for their help, noting that she sleeps with two drawings of bicycles above her bed to remind herself that "there are heroes in this story."
Tyler Kingkade contributed reporting.