This past weekend, a judge in Santa Clara County, California hiked eyebrows across the nation into eyebrows when he gave an insultingly lenient sentence to a man convicted of violently raping an unconscious woman–six months in jail. Well, now we know what persuaded that judge to come to such an outrageous decision. Two of the letters written in support of a light sentence amount to some of the most outrageous apologies for a convicted rapist on record.
In the early hours of January 18, 2015; two graduate students at Stanford University were on a late-night bike ride when they spotted a man thrusting his hips on top of an unconscious woman. The two students called the police and chased the pervert down. It turned out that he was Brock Turner, a member of the Cardinal swim team and an Olympic prospect.
At his March trial, Turner claimed that the encounter was consensual. The jury didn’t buy it, and In March, he was convicted of assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman with a foreign object, and sexual penetration of an unconscious woman with a foreign object. He faced up to 14 years in prison; prosecutors recommended six years.
However, on Friday, Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in the Santa Clara County jail and three years’ probation. With time off for good behavior, he could be back on the streets by the end of the summer. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Persky’s reasoning was simply incredible. Citing Turner’s youth–he’s only 20 years old–as well as his lack of a criminal record, Persky concluded that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him (Turner),” and probation officials’ recommendation of county jail and probation was more important.
Um, Judge? What about the impact of Turner’s crime on the victim? She cut herself off from her friends and family and quit her job due to the emotional trauma. At one point, she cried so often at night that she had to put refrigerated spoons on her face to reduce the puffiness on her eyes.
Persky was apparently persuaded in part by a mauldin and tone-deaf letter from Turner’s father, Dan. Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber, who helped lead Stanford’s reform of its sexual assault policies, posted a sample on Twitter on Sunday morning.
— Michele Dauber (@mldauber) June 5, 2016
Dan writes that his son is under a heavy emotional load, to the point that he eats just enough to keep going. He further writes that Brock’s life has been permanently altered as a result of “20 minutes of action out of 20 plus years of his life.” The Turner family has also been “broken and shattered” by the conviction.
If you think this is bad, read the whole thing here. Dan claims that during the 2014 winter break, Brock was “nearly distraught” over the difficulties he faced fitting in at Stanford. He believes that as a result, his son fell into the school’s party culture, and that directly led to what he calls “the events of Jan 17th and 18th.” Again, I ask–what about the impact on the victim?
Persky was also persuaded by a letter from Leslie Rasmussen, a childhood friend of Turner’s from Oakwood, Ohio; a suburb of Dayton. If possible, Rasmussen’s letter is even more outrageous than Dan Turner’s. Dauber tweeted a sample on Monday afternoon.
— Michele Dauber (@mldauber) June 6, 2016
Dauber is being very kind here. In the same breath that Rasmussen wags her finger at the victim for taking away “the next ten + years of his life” after not being able to remember how much she drank, she then says that she isn’t “blaming her directly.” She also claims that political correctness results in people branded as rapists when they have too much to drink at schools that encourage party atmospheres.
Check out the full letter here. Incredibly, Rasmussen claims that Turner should have been acquitted because he was “not completely in control of his emotions,” and the whole thing was “a huge misunderstanding.” I can’t even. How could any judge be persuaded by such tone-deaf garbage?
To see who was really impacted by this ugliness, read the victim’s impact statement here. Or better yet, you can listen to it. CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield spent the first 10 minutes of her show, “Legal View,” reading the letter to the nation. Watch here.
After reading this letter, you can only conclude that Persky’s sentence barely qualifies as a phrase.