Stanford University

On Stanford rape case

The United-States have been recently shaken by the light sentence given to Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman. On January 18, 2015 at night, he had been interrupted by two Swedish grad students on their bikes that have been concerned by the fact that the woman was not moving at all and confronted the offender who tried to run away (source 1).

She decided to share a court statement to Turner – powerful and necessary to read account of the impact the crime had on her- on Buzzfeed, and it soon became viral.

In March 2016, he has been found guilty of three counts of sexual assault by a Californian jury. However, he has only been sentenced to six month in county jail and three years of probation (the six months could be reduced to three months for good behaviour).

This sentence seems pretty lenient with regards with the crimes and with the six years required by prosecutors (two for each crime), especially when discovering the reasons the judge’s decision. “Persky took into consideration, among other factors, that Turner was remorseful [even though he never pleaded guilty and still blames alcohol and promiscuity] […] He said a prison sentence would have “a severe impact” and “adverse collateral consequences” on Turner” (source 2). This is a clear message: young and successful white male athlete must not suffer the entire consequences of their acts (source 3). It also reveals a deep lack of compassion for the victim and of acknowledgement that sexual assault is committed by every kind of man, including young good looking white successful athletes. Indeed, that is sexual offenders in Stanford look like (source 4). Furthermore, the father of the convicted wrote a letter pleaded for an even lighter sentence, arguing that “this is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action” (source 5).

However, some good is coming of the case. First, the decision sparked a public outrage and is raising a necessary discussion on sexual assault and on the intersection of class, privilege and criminal justice (source 6). Secondly, for one of the first time, the survivors “voice” is listened, spread and valued. “The victim’s impact letter has touched so many hearts and souls all across the world. What it’s done had opened a new dialogue for this very real and important issue […] People can read her letter and teach their kids and college students this is what sexual assault is. […] This is how a victim is impacted. If this letter doesn’t deter people from committing sexual assaults, I don’t know what will.” (source 7).

Stanford University