Stanford Sexual Assault – Judge Aaron Persky’s shallow thinking and misdirected sentencing

Jason Clark, SpeakingThreads

Desperate Woman Crying Holding Herself

Photo Source: BigStockPhoto

The young convict Brock Allen Turner aged about 20, a past Stanford University student was recently sentenced for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the campus last year. As the facts go, sometime past midnight in January 2015, couple of Stanford graduate students saw Turner (then identity not known) on top of a woman (victim) near a rubbish stack. The victim was completely still then. When the students advanced towards the offender Turner, he fled the scene leaving the victim, unconscious and semi naked. Turner was apprehended by one of the students and handed over to the police.

At the culmination stage of the sentencing, this sexual assault case was seen being fought through emotionally worded letters flying separately from the sides of the convict and the victim. To be precise the convict’s communication was sourcing from his father. A sexual assault becoming part of a subjective sentencing.

The letter of the victim came in the public domain last week. The victim girl who is aged about 23 has been anonymous. Her letter accounts for a most traumatic series of events and feelings, which she underwent coupled with struggle to overcome. The letter reads as if it is directly addressed to the offender Turner, an outrage of how that night devastated her life.

The letter of the victim got followed by a public letter (apparently written on a legal advice) from Dan Turner, convict’s father. The letter or perhaps an excerpt out of it was read out in the course of hearing on sentence. The father naturally pleaded for leniency from the Judge amplifying that just like the victim even the offender got completely destroyed that night.

Not sure whether the emotions or the law or the facts reasoned with the Judge’s mind then, when the sentence was pronounced. We fail to reconcile as to how such a serious crime offender could escape with merely six months’ sentence in a local jail with 3 years of probation. Ironically, Turner could have faced a maximum of 14 years sentence on account of conviction of serious criminal offences (i) assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, and (ii) sexually penetrating an intoxicated/unconscious person with a foreign object. Bizarrely, even the prosecutors sought only six years’ sentence as against maximum available sentence. The learned Judge Aaron Persky of the Santa Clara County Superior Court took a highly lenient view on the sentence by concluding that a tougher sentence shall have a severe bearing on Turner who happens to be a stellar swimmer of international level.

The issue in hand is not of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity as pleaded by offender’s father by even going to the extent of saying that his son is desirous of educating other students regarding these issues and dangers thereof. Firstly, alcohol consumption or drug usage are legally no defences or excuses for any offences committed under influence thereof. Secondly, in this case there was no sexual promiscuity but it was a sexual assault. The pleading of Turner elder in a way challenges the conviction, which you can’t do other than in appeal. It is also insensitive because the promiscuity argument casts an aspersion on the victim and is highly objectionable. It is a very clever and cunning approach. And sadly, Judge fell prey to it.

Admittedly, the victim and the offender went for the same party on the critical night and got drunk. Their blood tests reflected high levels of alcohol much beyond permissible legal limits. Offender claimed until the end of the judicial process that sexual act was consensual whereas the victim affirmed that she had no recollection of the assault. This proves the brutally unjustifiable advantage offender took of the woman. The victim felt humiliated not only during the commission of the heinous offence but also during the trial as she pondered over the legal system’s methodology to adjudicate a sexual assault matter including intimate and intimidating questioning during trial about unconcerned personal details.

The learned Judge Persky “thinks” the offender “will not be a danger to others.”

Sir, may we ask whether the sentencing is for the offences committed or to be committed.

We rest our case.

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