Photo courtesy of Yahoo: “Brock Turner only served half of his six-month sentence.”
One late night in January 2015, two Stanford University graduate students spotted an underclassman with a half-dressed, motionless woman behind a dumpster. Suspicious, the two men approached the scene, realizing the younger student, Brock Turner, was on top of the unconscious woman. One of the men yelled, ”Hey, she’s f—— unconscious!”. When Turner saw the two upperclassmen, he bolted, but was soon tackled by them and held down until he was arrested.
Last March, a California jury found the 20-year-old guilty of three felony counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. Although he faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison, Judge Aaron Persky only sentenced him six months, as he feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner. Before the incident, Turner was an outstanding swimmer with aspirations to participate in the Olympics. However after the incident, Turner was banned from Stanford as well as USA Swimming, effectively ending his swimming career.
Most parents would do anything to prevent their child from going to jail. Turner’s father was no exception. He believed Brock shouldn’t have received any jail time at all. He claimed “the events” were “20 minutes of action” that were not violent. He said after the trial his son was not his usual self; He was depressed, suffered from anxiety and lost his appetite for foods he once loved. Thousands of angry people responded to his message, claiming that Turner was asking to live this life when he raped an unconscious woman and deserves to rot in jail.
Brock Turner’s six month sentence caused outrage across America. People condemned the short sentence for being “too lenient.” It got even worse when it was announced that Brock’s jail time would be cut in half because of his good behavior. Protesters waited outside for hours for Turner to emerge from the Santa Clara County Jail in early September. When he arrived back home in Dayton, Ohio, where he will live with his parents as a registered sex offender, Turner was bombarded with even more angry protesters, some of which were armed.
Although millions are enraged by the decision in Turner’s case, Jennifer Long, chief executive officer of Aequitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women claimed it’s not unusual for rapists, especially those that aren’t minorities, to be given such short sentences. Long said, ”As stunning as the Stanford outcome was, it was not uncommon. Far too often we look at perpetrators in a less blameworthy way and minimize what happened to the victim”. The US Department of Justice states that 15 out of 16 rapists will walk free. Only 39% of rapes are actually reported and of those there is only a 16.3% chance that the rapist will spend time in prison. It was shocking that Turner was even convicted at all.
Last February, Delaney Robinson was raped by a football player at the University of North Carolina. She told the school about the incident, however, they did nothing about it. She told the police and shared her story with the public, only to have her rapist brought in for investigation where he was was told “not to sweat it, just keep on living your life and keep on playing football.” Even though he is a criminal, this man who raped and changed Robinson’s life still gets to represent his school on the football field and in the classroom. This case, along with hundreds of others, is creating a culture suggesting that rape isn’t a serious crime. A person who transforms someone’s life in such a demoralizing way deserves a life changing punishment. The emotional pain and misery the victim goes through should also be experienced by the rapist.
Rape is a crime and crime deserves punishment. However, if 69% of rapes continue to go unreported, there won’t be a change in our society. People need to speak up, even if they’re ignored and rejected a countless number of times. We need to stop giving the message that rape isn’t an issue. Although though Turner’s victim was disappointed with his lenient sentence, she’s hoping that, “this will wake people up.” She adds, “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”
By Lindsey Randall