Stanford Rape Case: Public Outrage Over Lenient Sentence

Brock Turner (Santa Clara County Sheriff via Associated Press)
Santa Clara County Sheriff via Associated Press

Public outrage and anger have greeted the six-month rape sentence handed down to Brock Turner, 20, the Stanford University student who raped a fellow student last year.

The light sentence — far shorter than the six years recommended — and a letter from the defendant’s father to the judge urging leniency have resulted in a petition calling for the judge overseeing the case to be recalled.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Dan Turner wrote, saying his son had already paid the price for his behavior. “That’s a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action in his 20-plus years of life,” he said according to the Los Angeles Times

Turner will be on probation and be required to register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life. He has been banned from Stanford. The San Jose Mercury News notes that Turner, who has appealed the conviction, “has maintained that he believed at the time the act was consensual and that he hadn’t realized the woman was unconscious.”

The line “20 minutes of action” is what triggered the reaction from the public. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Turner clarified his words, apologizing for them as not being the most choice.

My words have been misinterpreted by people. What I meant with that comment is a 20-minute period of time. I was not referring to sexual activity by the word “action.” It was an unfortunate choice of words and I did not mean to be disrespectful or offensive to anyone.

Turner had reportedly been seen thrusting his body on top of the woman, 22, who was unconscious, near a dumpster outside of a Stanford fraternity party in January 2015 when two graduate students noticed the scene. Turner tried to flee but the men went after Turner and called the police, which led to his arrest.

The female issued a statement about how she learned about her rape. “This is how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned.”

Prosecutors had reportedly asked Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky to sentence Turner to six years in prison. However, citing Turner’s lack of criminal history and remorse for his actions, Judge Persky sentenced him to six months in county jail instead.

On Tuesday, Judge Persky — who is also a Stanford graduate — entered another judicial term.

As of Tuesday, the petition by Dauber has 387,000 signatures. The petition suggests that “Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency.” 

Although Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen was critical of Judge Persky’s sentence, the Times reported on Monday that he said he does not believe Persky should be removed from his position.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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