On January 18, 2015, 20-year-old Stanford student, Brock Turner, made a decision that not only will damage his life going forward, but also his 22-year-old sexual assault victim. Turner was tried for both rape and sexual assault, but was only convicted of three felony accounts of sexual assault including; intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. Turner was only sentenced to six months in jail, but the most appalling part of this case, was that he only served three months in jail.
Many were shocked at such a short sentence for being found guilty of sexual assault, especially since this crime carries a minimum of two years and can be up to 14 years in state prison under the California law. On September 2, 2016, he was released with three years of probation. Santa Clara county judge, Aaron Persky, went as far to say that Turner was a good student with a clean record. An All-American swimmer with many dreams that had only made a mistake. Anything more than a six month conviction would have had a "severe impact" on his future. Turner's father wrote in a letter that even just six months was too harsh of a conviction. "His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," Dan Turner wrote. His son was paying too high of a price for "20 minutes of action."
The victim's statement shocked the world with her personal response, as she revealed details about her experience. She started off her statement with,"You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today." Turner had sexually assaulted her behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity party. It is not clear exactly when the victim became unresponsive. She was found by two Swedish students, who had chased Turner down and tackled him to hold him until police arrived. "Assault is not an accident. This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making."
A change.org petition was started June 6 to remove Persky from the bench. The petition has now collected over 95,000 signatures. The judge is facing a recall campaign for the sentence he gave Turner, led by Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor. Dauber commented to The Guardian, "[T]he judge bent over backwards in order to make an exception … and the message to women and students is ‘you’re on your own,’ and the message to potential perpetrators is, ‘I’ve got your back." Persky is also running for reelection this year, and is now unopposed.
One in five women and one in 16 men are assaulted during their time at college. Among college women, nine out of ten knew their offender prior to the assault. Sexual assault is becoming more of an issue among college students than many people realize, and as shown in the Turner case, perpetrators are not always convicted of the crimes they commit.