When Justice Is Not Done

Over the last few days, there has been a great deal of press surrounding the sentence handed down by Judge Aaron Persky in the rape case against former Sanford University swimmer Brock Turner. A jury found Turner 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.”

The facts are pretty straightforward. On Jan. 18, 2015, two graduate students discovered Turner on top of an unconscious woman. The location was outside the Kappa Alpha fraternity and it was approximately 1 AM. The victim has admitted she was drunk at the time and, she “described how she found herself on a gurney early on the morning of Jan. 18, 2015, facing injuries, rushed treatments and photo documentation of her wounds. In the aftermath of the assault, she said she has struggled with extreme depression. She eventually had to quit her job, and she said it took eight months for her to begin talking about the assault.”

Let me say right here that there is a difference between Turner going out and hunting a woman to rape. He didn’t break into her house nor did he beat her into submission. Yes, the victim was drunk and yes, Turner had been drinking as well. However, this goes beyond a he said, she said situation when you are caught with your pants around your ankles, metaphorically speaking, and you are violating an unconscious woman.

When addressing the court before sentencing, the victim asked that Turner be sentenced to at least one year in prison, citing, among other things, his apparent lack of remorse. I can’t imagine what she must have felt when she heard the actual sentence. Judge Persky decided the appropriate punishment for the offense would be six months in the county jail and three years probation.

Before handing down the sentence, the judge – and I use that term loosely – said that it had been a “difficult decision”. He looked at things like “Turner’s intoxication, character letters submitted to the court, adverse collateral effects stemming from high media coverage and the defendant’s apparent remorse.”

Read that again, paying close attention to the “adverse collateral effects stemming from high media coverage.” Pardon me but shouldn’t there be adverse collateral effects when someone rapes another person? It doesn’t matter that she was intoxicated. She did not have the capacity to give consent. His own intoxication might – MIGHT – be a mitigating factor but even there I’m not convinced. Intoxication isn’t a mitigating factor in DWI convictions. So why in hell should it mitigate anything in a rape case?

I’ll come back to the character letters in a minute.

Let’s look at the defendant’s apparent remorse. I bet he was remorseful when that guilty verdict came down. Poor entitled kid probably never had to face any real consequences before in his life. Unfortunately, he still isn’t. Oh, he’ll have to register as a sex offender and he won’t get to do everything he had planned but big whoop. There are folks sitting in jail right now, facing stricter sentencing for relatively minor cases than what he faces for raping a woman.

He made the choice, whether he was intoxicated or not, to rape the victim. Now he is getting nothing more than a light slap on the wrist, ala Affluenza Teen and it makes me sick.

What makes it worse is the fact that the judge bought into the “good boy led astray by his surroundings” argument. A “good boy” doesn’t do what Turner did. A “good boy” knows when to keep his zipper zipped.

Making it worse is the response of Turner’s father after the sentence was handed down. After parts of it were leaked to the press, the entire letter was released by the court.

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression.

Poor baby. Maybe he should have thought about that before he drank and especially before he raped his victim. Note that Daddy Dearest doesn’t mention any concern here about the victim. Oh, he gives lip service during his letter to the judge about how full of remorse his son is but is he really? Or is he sorry that he got caught and now has to pay for what he did, even if said payment isn’t anywhere near what it should be?

These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways.

What did he expect? That they could click their heels together and everything would go back to the way they wanted? His son raped a woman. He should be made to pay the price. Yes, it is painful to know your child could do something like this. Yes, it is hard for any parent to admit their kid is anything but perfect. But now is the time to teach your son that he has to admit his mistake and take the consequences, not find excuses for what he did.

His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.

And this is where the outrage really comes into play. What sort of mindset lets a parent, lets anyone, make this sort of statement? “2o minutes of action”. No, it was rape. He son had sex with someone without her consent. He took advantage of her and he broke the law. That is not “20 minutes of action”.

There’s more, including saying what a good thing it would be to let his son go to high schools and colleges to talk about the evils of binge drinking and casual sex. I can see it now, “Yes, I raped a woman and look at the price I had to pay. I was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years probation, less than you’ll get if you are caught doing X, Y or Z.” Big deterrent that will be.

I don’t know who I am angrier at right now: the judge or the father. One basically patted Turner on the head and sent him to his room without dinner. The other is telling him how he is the victim in this scenario. Both are wrong and both need to think long and hard about what they did.

I have to wonder what the judge’s record is when it comes to sentencing other rape defendants. How does someone go from being tough on sexual predators and sitting on the board for Support Network for Battered Women to handing down such a lenient sentence? Could it be, as this article says some people are asking, that other influences were at work besides those cited by the judge? Was he swayed by his own days at Stanford and his loyalty to the university? I don’t know but, as the article notes, some of his comments do lead to the questions being raised.

As for the father, I understand wanting to protect your son and keep him out of prison. But to call what his son did “20 minutes of action” is beyond belief. If this is the sort of reasoning he has used raising his son, maybe it’s no wonder Turner acted as he did. You might not call it “affluenza” but the lack of sufficient consequences for his actions could explain a great deal.

Lost in a lot of the discussion has been the victim. She was a great deal more merciful where Tucker’s possible sentence was concerned than I would have been. She admitted she had drunk too much that night. Yet she had much more to say. Read it. Read it all. Then tell me if Tucker deserved the leniency the judge showed.

Here is an extract:

One more time, in public news, I learned that my [buttocks] and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

Something was, and still is, very wrong with this situation. For once, I wish I lived in Palo Alto and could vote in the upcoming election. The judge is unopposed in the primary but, come November, here is hoping the people voice their displeasure at this miscarriage of justice.

13 Comments

    1. Agreed. What’s next? “Yes, John Doe there killed those three people with forethought and malice but sending him to prison will expose him to the wrong sort of people. So I’ll just sentence him to six months house arrest and then probation”? It is called punishment for a reason.

      1. Haven’t you heard? There’s activists now who think that imprisonment is too harsh a punishment for criminals. Wish I was kidding.

        1. I wish you were too. When I read the article out of England — was it the Guardian — about how women shouldn’t be sent to prison for crimes men are because, well, women, I wanted to throw my tablet against the wall.

  1. There are people in here in AZ and elsewhere who’ve gotten more time for simple possession of marijuana! That judge didn’t do his job properly. May he be an EX-judge before the year is over.

    1. I know. Same in Texas. You get more for misdemeanor offenses than this Cali judge gave a rapist, one who tried to run away when the two graduate students interrupted his “20 minutes of action”.

  2. The crime didn’t start on January 28, 2015, which was the day the rape occurred. I don’t know when the crime started, but I think there were at least two precursor events:
    1. At some point, Brock, who now FOREVER will be eligible to be referred to as ‘the rapist’, started down a path that legitimized stupid, drunken behavior as acceptable.
    2. At some point, his choices opened up to the point that his own sexual gratification took top priority.

    So, no, Brock’s dad. It wasn’t 20 minutes of activity. It was a long period of choices he made, and he could have made other choices.

    1. You left off one other point, Pat. That point in time when he realized his father, and possibly other members of his family, would always make excuses for his behavior and try to find any way they could to erase the consequences of said bad behavior.

    1. Yep. Six months in the county jail. He doesn’t even get to be processed into state pen. Someone — the judge — forgot that there should be a deterrence factor when it comes to punishment.

  3. I agree – the “20 minutes of action” is the worst outrage. Going by the theory of this “father” (yes, that is with the waggly fingers there) – well, I’m 56 years old and my only “badness” with the law has been paying a fine for a non-moving violation (cracked windshield that I was waiting for the next paycheck to get replaced).

    So – being such a model citizen, for so much longer than his special snowflake, I should be able to get away with barely five seconds of “action.” Like pulling my CW and shooting some random stranger on the street. Before and after that five seconds, I’m just a nice old man with family that loves me and all…

    Yes? Does the logic not follow?

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