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Brock Turner is a rapist who was just convicted of assaulting a woman while she was unconscious behind a dumpster near Stanford University. The facts of the case are inarguable, as two witnesses happened upon the assault as it was taking place, and when Turner saw them, he took off running. His defense was that he didn’t realize the woman was unconscious and he thought it was all consensual, which makes absolutely zero sense. “Whoops, I had no idea the person I was inside was completely dead to the world, and I really just thought a dumpster was the best place to have sex, and I ran when those witnesses saw me because….because I suddenly wanted to go for a jog and it’s just a coincidence?
Despite the fact that it was an open and shut case, Turner took his excuse to trial, where a jury found him guilty. Judge Aaron Persky, though, felt sorry for him, sentencing him to only 6 months in prison, which is 18 months fewer than the minimum prescribed sentence for his crime. A lot of people are pointing out that Persky is a former Stanford athlete, just like Turner, but the sad fact is that you don’t even need to know about that kind of conflict of interest to guess that this would happen, since rapists are hardly ever prosecuted, and when they are they’re hardly ever convicted, and when they are the rich white ones generally get a sweet deal. In fact, the judge was likely basing his sentencing on the recommendation of the probation officer, who was also extremely sympathetic to the rapist.
What makes this case particularly frustrating is that just prior to the judge’s extremely lenient sentencing, the victim in the case delivered one of the most amazing speeches I’ve ever read in my life. If you haven’t read it yet, you owe it to yourself and to others to stop what you’re doing — yes, even watching this video, just pause it right here — and go read every single word that she wrote. I can only imagine that Judge Persky was busy playing solitaire or something while she read her statement, because it is incredibly moving. She describes what she experienced both immediately after the rape and in the months that came as she was subjected to invasive questioning and a complete breakdown in her regular life. She’s been forever, irrevocably changed by Turner’s actions, and she described it all so clearly and so perfectly that there’s no way Judge Persky could have actually listened to that and still focused completely on how awful it would be if Turner would be punished, for what Turner’s father described as “20 minutes of action.”
It’s a complete miscarriage of justice, and the only good news is that a Stanford law professor, Michele Landis Dauber, is leading a formal process to recall Judge Persky and get him off the bench. You can sign a petition at Change.org to show your support or fill out an official complaint form with the State of California–as usual, all links are on my Patreon.
Possibly the worst part of all of this is that Turner’s lawyer is planning to appeal the jury’s ruling, anyway, which will put the victim through even more torture, forcing her to relive her rape over and over and over again. Considering the current research showing that most rapists are serial rapists, let’s hope the appeal fails and that we can at least keep a rapist off the streets for a few short months.