It was a late night in January, 2015. There was alcohol involved. There was dancing involved. There may have even been flirting involved. What was NOT involved, however, was consent. Thankfully, two Stanford University graduate students were out for a bike ride when they came across a man thrusting himself on top of an unconscious, partially nude young woman. They took immediate action. Seeing the two men approaching the scene, 20 year-old rapist Brock Turner tried to flee the scene. He was caught, and later apprehended by police. He was charged (and convicted) of three felony sexual assault charges. Facing 14 years for his unspeakable crimes, he was sentenced to a mere six months in jail by Judge Aaron Persky, who stated a lengthier prison sentence might “have a severe impact” on the former Stanford swimming star. After serving just three months of his nauseating sentence, Brock Turner is being released on “good behavior.” Welcome to rape culture and white privilege, folks. Please take your seats.
Despite the incredibly powerful (and painfully tragic) statement Turner’s victim read directly to him in court and the subsequent outpouring of support over the impact Turner’s actions had on her, including an open letter written to her by Vice President Joe Biden in which he stated, “while the justice system has spoken in your particular case, the nation is not satisfied,” there was never really any doubt Turner would serve more time than he has. In the county of Santa Clara, California, as long as inmates don’t get into trouble and maintain a favorable disciplinary record while doing their time, they only serve half of their sentence. I mean, he was a star athlete after all and by gosh by golly, that means something in America (so long as you aren’t female and black, male and black, and you don’t rightfully refuse to hold your hand over your heart or stand for the National Anthem in protest over your country continuing to fail you.)
Turner was also kept in protective custody so he wouldn’t “get hurt” in prison.
After rendering his ridiculously lenient verdict, Judge Persky faced a wave of backlash, and rightfully so. One juror wrote an open letter lambasting his decision while other “potential” jurors refused to serve on any of his future cases. He was also removed from a sexual assault case in June of 2016 after the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office called upon the code of California civil procedure (known as 170.6) to say they didn’t posses the confidence that he could render a fair verdict in a lawsuit regarding a male nurse who allegedly sexually assaulted a sedated female patient. He has since been reassigned from the criminal to civil division of the court over which he presides.
But what about the victim’s protection? While she held her blood-stained clothes in a plastic bag and went home in a sheet (with pine needles still in her hair from the ground on which she was splayed) after being examined in the hospital, Mr. Turner gets to go home after a whole 90 days to his loving, he-did-nothing-wrong-because-he-is-a-good-boy-Ivy-League-athlete parents where he’ll stay in their cozy home. He will be coddled, cooed and soothed by his adoring family over how hard this must have been for him, surely without mention he is a registered sex-offender rapist.
Brock Turner will never truly have to face the consequences of his actions, yet his victim will live with them for the rest of her life.
I ask you: where is the justice in this?