The controversial case of 20-year-old former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months for the conviction of felony sexual assault charges, has drawn the ire of many people because of the seemingly lax punishment handed down to him on Thursday. Many followers of the case wondered how the judge presiding over the sentencing, Aaron Persky, could have possibly settled on just six months of jail time for Turner when prosecutors had asked for six years and despite the evidence stacked against Turner (not to mention the jury's conviction).
Persky, whose ruling has been near-universally panned, justified the light sentence because of the "severe impact" a harsher sentence could have on Turner's well-being. Here are five pieces of evidence Persky considered for his ruling:
The 23-year-old victim read a 12-page letter describing the assault's affect on her.
The victim addressed the court during Turner's sentencing, presenting a 12-page letter recounting the event and its impact on her.
"My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured," the letter reads.
"Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice."
The nurse who testified during the trial said the victim had "significant trauma" to her vagina.
Kristine Setterlund — the nurse who examined the victim, and has performed over 700 exams for the Sexual Assault Response Team — described the damage inflicted to her body from Turner's assault during her testimony in court.
According to the Mercury News, the nurse described "significant trauma" to the victim's genitalia, as well as "abrasions and debris not typically found in the vaginal area."
Turner said on the stand that he did seek out drunk girls at parties.
While testifying, Turner recounted the night of the assault and the state of sobriety of the victim. According to the Mercury News, Turner said she was "very drunk," although, "no more drunk than anybody else" at the party they attended (Turner himself had a blood-alcohol level that was double the legal limit of what is considered too impaired to operate a vehicle). Moreover, sex crimes prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci asked Turner if it was normal for him to seek out drunk girls.
"At a party, yes," he responded.
Two bicyclists who came across Turner and the unconscious victim and described the scene — and it's a very negative portrayal of Turner.
Peter Jonsson and Carl Fredrik, the cyclists who came to the victim's aid (while Turner fled the scene), described the assault in court. They said they saw a man on top of a female, and the act didn't seem consensual, and, as they told police, "Something seemed weird." They added that they didn't see the victim moving. When they shouted out to Turner (specifically, "What the fuck are you doing"), he tried to run away before they caught up to him and tripped him up, prior to the police coming to the scene.
According to the Huffington Post, Jonsson cried on several occasions during his testimony.
"[Jonsson] said it was a very disturbing event for him to witness and be involved in, but he just reacted to the situation at hand without really thinking," the report noted.
In the letter she read to the court, the victim also thanked Jonsson and Fredrik for intervening. "I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story," the letter reads. "That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget."
The jury found Turner guilty of all felonies.
The jury found Turner guilty for all three charges presented: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman; sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object; and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object, according to the Huffington Post. But despite facing a maximum of 14 years in jail, and six years as recommended by Kianerci, Persky opted for six months — three with good behavior.
Essentially, many believe the punishment does not fit the crime — and it's hard to argue with the evidence presented to Persky.
Correction: June 7, 2016
A previous version of this story mischaracterized Brock Turner's conviction. Among other charges, he was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape. Additionally, this story previously mischaracterized Brock Turner's current affiliation with the Stanford swim team. Turner is no longer on the team.