Stanford Swimmer Assaults Woman, Gets Short Jail Sentence Since Jail Might Be Hard for Him

Source: Stanford University

Simple rule: When a woman is unconscious and lying on the ground near a dumpster, you don't sexually assault her. Early last year, Brock Allen Turner, a 20-year-old swimmer at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, did just that.

Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated person, sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object on March 30, according to the Huffington Post. 

The verdict was delivered 14 months after two Stanford students found Turner assaulting the woman outside a frat party on Jan. 18, 2015.

Now, instead of the six-year sentence prosecutors initially recommended, Turner is getting just six months in county jail — because prison could have a "severe impact" his well-being, according to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who presided over Turner's sentence hearing Thursday.

"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him," Judge Persky explained, according to the Guardian. "I think he will not be a danger to others."

The victim, meanwhile, has no memory of the attack. While testifying in court on March 21, the victim — who is not a Stanford student and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 at the time of the assault — said her only memory was waking up in a hospital with "pine needles in her disheveled hair, [and] dried blood on her hands and elbows."

"You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today," the victim told Turner, describing the trauma he had caused her.

Stanford University.
Source: 
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

In justifying his decision, Judge Persky claimed Turner's young age and lack of a prior criminal record were grounds to reduce the suggested six-year sentence. Santa Clara County district attorney Jeff Rosen later criticized the move, according to the Guardian. 

"The punishment does not fit the crime," he said in a press conference. 

The outcome of Turner's hearing is a grim reminder of how dangerous rape culture and sexual violence against women at America's colleges and universities is.

According to a study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 21% of students from nine unnamed colleges surveyed told researchers they have experienced sexual assault on college campuses in the U.S. In another study, researchers at Brown University's School of Public Health discovered 15% of undergraduate freshman women at one private university in New York state experienced rape while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And according to Newsweek, approximately 32% of college men would consider "[forcing] a woman into sexual intercourse" if they knew no one would find out about it.

All this contributes to a culture where women are routinely sexually assaulted on college campuses. The results of Turner's hearing reveal how heavily our justice system is stacked against these women — and in favor of their attackers.

June 8, 2016, 7:55 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.

Correction: June 8, 2016
A previous headline on this story mischaracterized Brock Turner's conviction. Among other charges, he was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape.

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Sarah A. Harvard

Sarah is a staff writer covering religion, race and politics. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Slate, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, and VICE. Send tips and feedback: sharvard@mic.com

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