08 Jun Tolerating the Rape Culture
by Diane Robertson
Early on the morning on Jan. 18 two men riding bikes on the Stanford University campus spotted a man raping an unconscious woman. The man later identified as Brock Allen Turner, a student and swimmer at Stanford University, ran away when he saw the bike riders. The men tackled him while a third person called police. Turner was caught in the act of raping an unconscious 23 year old woman whom he met at a party.
Police arrested Turner and booked him into the Santa Clara County Jail. He was later released after posting $150,000 bail. In March after two days of deliberation, the jury found Turner guilty on three felony charges: 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.
The sentencing took place on June 2nd and has shocked the world. Judge Aaron Persky gave Turner 6 months in jail and probation. He said that Turner’s age — 20 — and lack of criminal history warranted him a much shorter sentence and that “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”
Turner still may need to only serve three of his six month sentence. His father has been quoted as saying that Turner had already paid “a steep price … for 20 minutes of action” and therefore only deserves probation. Turner had dropped out of Stanford University after the incident.
We hear much about the problem of rape on campuses across the country—men taking advantage of drunk women. This man was caught in the very act. The rape victim did not even regain consciousness until she was in the hospital and confessed to police that she did not remember the attack. There was no question of consent. Turner was clearly guilty. Yet he has been let off with very little consequences. Apparently prison “may have a severe impact on him.” Isn’t that the point of a prison sentence?
It shouldn’t matter if this is a first, second, or third rape. Rape should not be tolerated in society. With this miniscule punishment, the Judge is basically saying that rape is tolerable.
Turner’s 23 year old victim has spoken out. She said, “The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.”
Fortunately, the people of California agree with the victim and are trying to recall Judge Persky.