People v. Turner
People v. Turner, formally People of the State of California v. Brock Allen Turner (2015), was a criminal case filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court which convicted Brock Allen Turner of three counts of felony sexual assault. Turner was a student athlete at Stanford University on January 18, 2015, when he sexually penetrated an intoxicated and unconscious 22-year-old woman (referred to as "Emily Doe") with his fingers.
|People v. Turner|
Seal of Santa Clara County, California
|Court||Santa Clara County Superior Court|
|Full case name||People of the State of California v. Brock Allen Turner|
January 28, 2015, on counts:|
1.) rape of an intoxicated person
2.) rape of an unconscious person
3.) sexual penetration of an unconscious woman
4.) sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman
5.) assault with intent to commit rape
|Started||March 14, 2016|
|Decided||March 30, 2016|
Count 1.) Withdrawn by prosecution|
Count 2.) Withdrawn by prosecution
Count 3.) Guilty
Count 4.) Guilty
Count 5.) Guilty
|Defendant||Brock Allen Turner|
|Turner was sentenced on June 2, 2016, to six months' incarceration in the Santa Clara County jail to be followed by three years of probation. He was released three months early. Additionally, Turner must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and participate in a sex offender rehabilitation program.|
|Judge(s) sitting||Aaron Persky|
Turner was caught by two Stanford international students from Sweden, who testified that they intervened because the woman appeared to be unconscious. Turner fled the scene as they approached, resulting in the two apprehending and restraining him until police arrived to take him into custody. The police arrested Turner on Stanford's campus, and booked him into the Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of attempted rape and penetration with a foreign object. He was released the same day after posting $150,000 bail.
Turner was indicted on January 28, 2015, on five charges: two for rape, two for felony sexual assault, and one for attempted rape. He was arraigned on February 2, 2015, pleading not guilty on all five charges. On October 7, 2015, after reviewing the results of DNA tests, the two rape charges were dropped by prosecutors. The trial began on March 14, 2016, and concluded on March 30, 2016, with Turner being convicted of the three remaining charges of felony sexual assault. The convictions carried a potential sentence of 14 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended six years in prison while probation officials recommended a "moderate" county jail sentence. On June 2, 2016, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months' confinement in the Santa Clara County jail (of which he served half) to be followed by three years of probation. Additionally, Turner was informed of his life-long obligation to be lawfully registered as a sex offender and furthermore, ordered to complete a state approved rehabilitation program for sex offenders.
Immediately after Turner's conviction, there was widespread public criticism of the sentence, accusing Persky of judicial bias in favor of male, white and class privilege, leading to campaigns for his recall or resignation. The Santa Clara County Bar Association and public defenders defended Persky, saying that the sentence was based upon the probation report as well as being consistent with similar cases, and stated that his removal would be a "threat to judicial independence". Persky was recalled by county voters on June 5, 2018.
The victim impact statement to the court was also widely disseminated by international media outlets, fueling a resurgence of the wider debate regarding the prevalence of campus sexual assault overall. Her statement described her suffering and days surrounding the incident in vivid detail, dissecting and chastising Turner's actions and the probation court's recommendation of a short sentence. According to Vice News, "[the case had become] the latest controversial episode in an ongoing debate sweeping the U.S. about rape culture, class privilege in the criminal justice system, and campus safety."
On November 1, 2016, Glamour named "Emily Doe" a woman of the year for "changing the conversation about sexual assault forever", citing that her statement has been read over 11 million times. The case influenced the California legislature to toughen sexual assault laws by requiring prison terms for rapists whose victims were unconscious and including digital penetration in the penal code's definition of rape.
Brock Turner was born August 1, 1995, in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Oakwood High School in 2014, where he was a three-time All-American swimmer. At the time of his arrest, Turner was a 19-year-old freshman at Stanford University; enrolled on a swimming scholarship.
Before sentencing, the prosecution filed a memo with the court describing Turner's drug and alcohol history at Stanford and earlier in high school. It recounted that police found photos and messages on Turner's cell phone that indicated extensive drug use, including LSD, ecstasy, marijuana extracts, and excessive alcohol. Turner was arrested in 2014 for possession of alcohol while under legal age.
By the conventions of U.S. courts and media, the woman Turner was convicted of assaulting was called "V01" in the redacted police report on the incident, "Jane Doe" in the indictment, and "Emily Doe" and "Jane Doe 1" by local and regional newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, the Stanford Daily and the Palo Alto Weekly. At the time of her assault, Doe was a 22-year-old alumna of a different college. Her younger sister (referred to by the media as Tiffany Doe or Jane Doe 2), was a student at a distant California university.
Two Swedish graduate students, Peter Lars Jonsson (AKA W01) and Carl-Fredrik Arndt (AKA W02), were cycling by the Kappa Alpha fraternity on the Stanford campus about 1:00 a.m., on January 18, 2015, when they spotted the assault taking place. According to Arndt and Jonsson, they surprised Turner behind a dumpster on top of an unconscious woman. Jonsson testified that he confronted him asking "What the fuck are you doing? She's unconscious." According to Jonsson, Turner quickly rose and fled. As Arndt briefly went to determine whether she was breathing, Jonsson chased Turner, tripped him and held him down around 75 feet (23 m) away from the dumpster, asking "What are you smiling for?" Later, responding to the assistant District Attorney's questions during the trial, Turner testified that he was laughing because he found the situation ridiculous. Arndt rapidly joined the chase, helping to pin Turner down when he was apprehended. A bystander at the dumpster called emergency services while two other passersby arrived to help Arndt and Jonsson keep Turner pinned on the ground. Campus police arrived moments later, questioned Turner, and then arrested him.
According to a deputy sheriff who described the victim as unconscious at the scene, when she arrived at the hospital, she did not respond to shouting and being shook by the shoulders. She regained consciousness at 4:15 am. and testified that at that time, she had pine needles on her hair and body and dried blood on her hands and elbows. In an interview with the police, she said she did not recall being alone with a man during the night and stated she did not consent to any sexual activity. At the hospital, the victim was found to have abrasions and erythema (reddening) on her skin. One nurse who administered a Sexual Assault Response Team examination at the hospital determined that she had experienced significant trauma (physical injury, bruising, etc.) and penetrating trauma (piercing and cutting injuries).
Turner and the victim had attended a party at Kappa Alpha fraternity earlier in the night. The victim's sister testified in the trial that Turner, a man previously unknown to her, had approached her twice and attempted to kiss her, but that she pulled away. She also testified that she never saw Turner and the victim interact at the party. According to a police report compiled in the morning after the incident, Turner at first told police that he met the victim outside the fraternity house and left with her. He also stated he did not know her name and "stated that he would not be able to recognize her if he saw her again."
After his arrest, Turner told police that he met the victim at the Kappa Alpha house, they "drank beer together," "walked away from the house holding hands," and that he took off her clothes and fondled her while she rubbed his back. Turner then said he got nauseous and told her he needed to vomit. Turner said he got up and started to walk away to throw up, and heard another person saying something to him which he could not understand, then heard the same person talking to another person in a foreign language. He also denied running from the graduate students. During his trial testimony, Turner stated that he and the victim drank beer together, danced and kissed at the party and agreed to go back to his room. Turner stated that the victim slipped on a slope behind a wooden shed, then Turner got down to the ground and started kissing with the victim. Turner stated he then asked her if she wanted him to "finger" her, to which she said yes. He stated that he "fingered" her for a minute as they were kissing, then they started "dry humping." Turner testified that he stumbled down an incline where he was confronted by the graduate students saying things like "You're sick" and "Do you think that's OK?" Turner testified that he didn't know what they were talking about. They said they grabbed him, but Turner said that he broke away, but was quickly tackled.
Both prosecuting Attorney Alaleh Kianerci and the victim alleged that Turner's narrative during trial testimony was fabricated. Kianerci argued to the jury that, "He's able to write the script because she has no memory. But just because he wrote the script doesn't mean that [...] knowledgeable jurors have to believe it." The victim described Turner's testimony as presenting "a strange new story, [that] almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel."
In his statements Turner described initially drinking five Rolling Rock beers and two swigs of Fireball whiskey in a friend's room, and then having more beer later, reaching a total of nine beers.
Tested some time after his arrest, Turner's blood alcohol content was estimated to have been 0.171% at 1 a.m. He testified that he did remember what happened that night. Emily Doe's blood alcohol concentration was measured in a hospital several hours after the assault at 0.12%, and doctors estimated her intoxication level at 1 a.m., the estimated time of the assault, to have been around 0.22%, or 0.242-0.249%. She told the police that she did not remember the events from some point after her arrival at the party until she woke up more than three hours later in the hospital. Shortly before 1 a.m., Doe phoned her boyfriend and left a voicemail message, which would be later entered as evidence by the prosecution. The Palo Alto Weekly described it as "almost entirely incomprehensible"; a juror later cited it as particularly strong evidence that she was not in a fit state to give consent.
Turner admitted to only limited prior experience with alcohol, as a putative mitigating factor. However, evidence recovered from his cell phone texts recorded in the year before his 2015 arrest showed that he had extensively discussed his use of alcohol. His text messages also revealed use of illegal drugs. In 2014, Turner had been arrested on campus for underage drinking.
Doe reported that her last memory was around midnight, and that she did not remember telephone calls to her sister and sister's friend made shortly after that. A responding paramedic said she did not respond to a "shake and shout" test, but that she opened her eyes when he pinched her nail beds. When Doe vomited on the scene before being taken away by ambulances, she was able to cough and spit out the vomit on her own without assistance. In a January 19 report, the paramedic rated her as 11 out of 15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale.
Craig Lee testified that the woman's DNA was found under the fingernails of Turner's left and right hands and on a portion of his right finger. Lee's test did not show when the DNA was deposited and could not tell if it was blood, but he said it did resemble blood. The woman testified that she woke up with dried blood on her hands and elbows.
Turner withdrew from Stanford shortly after the incident rather than face disciplinary proceedings. On January 20—two days after his arrest—Stanford announced Turner had been banned from campus. Stanford further announced within two weeks of the incident that it had banned Turner from ever setting foot on campus again—the harshest disciplinary sanction it can impose on a student.
Turner had aspirations to swim for the U.S. National Team in the 2016 Olympics, but USA Swimming stated on June 6 that he would not be eligible for membership if he sought to reapply. On June 10, USA Swimming reiterated that Turner would never be welcome in its ranks again, under its zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. That announcement effectively banned Turner from ever participating in a competitive swimming event for the United States. Sanctioned meets in the United States—including Olympic trials—are open only to members of USA Swimming.
Indictment and chargesEdit
- rape of an intoxicated person
- rape of an unconscious person
- sexual penetration (by a foreign object) of an unconscious woman
- sexual penetration (by a foreign object) of an intoxicated woman
- assault with intent to commit rape
These were summarized as "two counts of rape, two counts of penetration and one count of assault with intent to rape". The two formal charges of rape under California state law were dropped at a preliminary hearing on October 7, 2015, after DNA testing revealed no genetic evidence of genital-to-genital contact. On March 7, 2016, The People filed Motions in Limine And Witness List, which outlined permissible Evidence guidelines for the trial. The trial began on March 14, 2016.
On March 30, 2016, Turner was found guilty of three felonies: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
Prosecutors recommended that Turner be given a six-year prison sentence based on the purposefulness of the action, the effort to hide this activity and her intoxicated state.
Santa Clara County probation officials, including his probation officer Monica Lassettre, recommended that Turner receives a "moderate" county jail sentence with formal probation based on Turner's lack of criminal history, youth and expression of remorse. The probation report did not mention another woman who said she had been upset by Turner's unwanted physical advances at a Kappa Alpha party, eight days before the charged offense. This report was present in the trial record.
On June 2, 2016, the Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in the Santa Clara County jail followed by three years of probation. After three months in jail, Turner was released on September 2, 2016. He is permanently registered as a sex offender and is under obligation to participate in a sex offender rehabilitation program.
Controversy over sentenceEdit
Nancy Brewer, a retired Santa Clara County assistant public defender, described Persky as being respected by both prosecutors and defenders, stating that he was seen as a fair judge who is not soft on crime or a judge that would give lenient sentences. Brewer said that Persky had carefully evaluated the evidence and did what he thought was a fair and appropriate sentence in the case based on the Santa Clara County Probation Department's pre-sentence investigation report. Attorney and media legal analyst Danny Cevallos said: "[the judge] absolutely is obliged to consider very seriously the [probation department] report," and noted that the California penal code allows a judge to depart from the statutory minimum (two years) after considering the defendant's lack of criminal history and the effect of incarceration. Cevallos believed that while the sentence was lenient, Turner's prior clean record made him a candidate for minimum sentencing.
Deputy Public Defender Sajid Khan did not consider the sentence lenient as he noted "Turner will register as a sex offender for life, and if he violates his probation he could go to prison for 14 years." Khan further stated that "Persky's reputation among public defenders (a group closely attuned to racial inequities in the courtroom) is that of a fair-minded jurist", saying, "No one has been able to cite an example so far of him [sic] where a similarly situated minority client has been treated harshly by him. We appreciated...the judge's understanding of Brock Turner's humanity...and we would want any judge to do the same for our clients." Similarly, other sitting judges (both state and federal) and legal commentators have defended Persky's decision, noted that the sentence may, in their opinion, be disproportionate due to the life-long consequences of a criminal conviction and sex offender registration, and called on the bar to protect the independence of the judiciary.
Turner's father protested the prison sentence requested by the prosecutor, saying "[The sentence] is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen criticized the letter from Turner's father to the court, saying it reduced a brutal sexual assault to "20 minutes of action."
Repercussions to the judgeEdit
Although he did not face any opposition in an election held five days after the sentencing, Persky faced a campaign to recall him. Online petitions calling for Persky to be removed attracted over a million signatures by June 10, 2016. Professor Michele Dauber, of the Stanford Law School and longtime advocate on campus sexual assault, who is also a family friend of the victim, led the Committee to Recall Judge Persky. The Committee planned to collect signatures in Santa Clara County to force a November 2017 recall vote. A request for an injunction by Persky delayed that initiative. The California Attorney General's office supported the propriety of the county registrar of voters approval of the petition allowing the recall to go forward. Persky's legal team argued that since he is a state officer, only the California Secretary of State had the authority to approve its acceptance. The recall vote required gathering 90,000 verified signatures. Persky paid $30,000 to the firm of Brian Seitchik, the manager of Donald Trump's presidential campaign in Arizona, to lead the opposition of the recall. A retired judge living in Santa Cruz heard Persky's request for injunction to prevent the recall election and approved it. The demands for recall received support from Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas), who spoke in the United States House of Representatives to condemn Turner's sentence as too lenient and to call for Persky's removal.
The move to recall Persky was opposed by the Santa Clara County public defender, who said she is "alarmed by the hysteria" about the Turner sentence. A group of 70 public defenders has petitioned in support of Persky, warning against "mass incarceration" brought upon by state legislatures or indiscreet judges, and fearing that the backlash against Persky could hurt their clients (mostly poor African and Latino) by compelling judges to give out harsh sentences. Deputy Public Defender Sajid Khan wrote "rather than using robotic, one size fits all punishment schemes, we want judges, like Judge Persky, to engage in thoughtful, case by case, individualized determinations of the appropriate sentence for a particular crime and particular offender". Santa Clara County district attorney Jeff Rosen, whose office prosecuted Turner and will not appeal the sentence, stated, "While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case, I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship" and said "Judicial independence is a critical part of the U.S. justice system. The immense power that comes with judicial independence also comes with accountability to the people we serve."
Danny Cevallos stated that judges enjoy a modicum of independence from public pressure, and "there are no apparent grounds for impeachment or allegations of judicial misconduct, based on this sentence alone." Cevallos said that the recall movement "raises the question: is removing judges good for the spirit of the judiciary system, especially when the judge's sole transgression is a legal sentence" where he correctly applied the law. The Santa Clara County Bar Association has released a statement saying that removing Persky would be a "threat to judicial independence" and weighs just one of his 13 years of decisions too heavily, saying they see "no credible assertions that in issuing the sentence, Judge Persky violated the law or his ethical obligations or acted in bad faith." Similarly, other sitting judges (both state and federal) and legal commentators have defended Persky's decision, noted that the sentence might, in their opinion, be disproportionate due to the life-long consequences of a criminal conviction and sex offender registration, and called on the bar to protect the independence of the judiciary.
In June 2016, at least ten prospective jurors refused to serve in a misdemeanor trial for possession of stolen property where Persky was presiding, citing the judge's sentencing of Turner as a reason. The following week, Rosen filed a peremptory motion for recusal in a case where Persky was to preside over the criminal trial of a surgical nurse charged with sexual battery for allegedly touching the genitals of a patient under sedation. Rosen called his move to have the judge removed from the case, "a rare and carefully considered step for our office."
As a result of the backlash in the wake of his sentencing, Persky has asked not to hear any more criminal cases, and has been re-assigned to the Civil Division of the California Court system.
The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, on January 24, 2018, confirmed that sufficient signatures had been verified to put the recall on the ballot. There were 94,539 signatures submitted, only a fraction of which were verified in order to reach the total needed to qualify. The recall issue was on the state elections ballot on June 5, 2018. The California Commission on Judicial Performance found that he had not abused his discretion and he was supported by dozens of law school professors, retired judges and the Santa Clara Bar Association. He stood by his sentencing, saying he's been unfairly targeted as the "face of rape" by recall advocates. At the same time he admitted, "There is an underlying deep frustration among actual victims of sexual assault and women in general about the criminal justice system not taking sexual assault and domestic violence seriously. It's a very genuine and important problem." "The passion is authentic, the end is justified, let's increase sexual assault reporting. Let's do criminal justice reform where it's smart to do so." Persky was the first judge in the United States to be recalled by voters in 77 years, and the first in California in 86 years. In a press conference in May 2018, Persky compared his sentence handed down in the Turner case to that of Brown v. Board of Education. In a May 18, 2018 interview, Persky stated he had no regrets, and would rule exactly the same again on this case.
Two women, Cindy Hendrickson, a Santa Clara County assistant district attorney and Angela Storey, a civil attorney, appeared on the ballot to take Persky's position, in the event of his successful recall. Storey opposed the recall on principle. When the election results were being tabulated, and they indicated Persky would be recalled, Professor Dauber stated, "The vote today...is a vote against impunity for high-status offenders of domestic violence and sexual violence." Hendrickson won the election to take Persky's place. Persky will leave the bench and Hendrickson will be sworn in ten days after the election results are certified. In the June 5, 2018 primary election, Persky lost the recall vote by over 23%. Almost 200,000 Santa Clara County voters cast ballots against his retention a margin of 61.51% to 38.49%. The county clerk had 28 days within which to certify the recall election results, ten days after which Hendrickson would take Persky's place on the bench.
Revisit of previous civil case of alleged rapeEdit
In 2011, Persky presided over a civil lawsuit against multiple members of the De Anza College baseball team, who were accused by the minor plaintiff, "Jane Doe", of gang-raping her while she was unconscious until another party attendee who heard the commotion intervened. During the trial, Persky decided that the jury should be allowed to view photographs of the plaintiff taken at another party she attended approximately a year after the alleged gang rape, as per the defense's claim that this evidence contradicted the plaintiff's claims of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The jury found the defendants not liable.
Following Turner's sentencing in 2016, the plaintiff's attorneys in the De Anza case criticized Persky for allowing the photos into evidence. Attorneys for Doe said the photographs were not the only evidence that Persky unfairly permitted. Four of the baseball players had invoked Fifth Amendment rights not to self-incriminate during the discovery phase of the litigation. According to a lawyer for Doe, that was a critical juncture: it prevented their legal team from obtaining evidence that could have helped them pursue their case. The original judge in the case ruled in 2010 that the defendants could refuse to testify, but that meant that they would be prohibited from subsequently testifying in the case. That prohibition was lifted by Persky after he took over the trial in 2011, a move that Doe's attorneys say undermined her case.
After the guilty verdict, Turner said to his probation officer that the encounter was consensual. He also gave an 11-page statement to the judge that said he received verbal consent from the woman before she passed out.
According to Turner's statement, he and the woman drank, danced, and kissed at the party. Sometime around midnight, he asked her whether she would like to go back to his dorm and she said yes. He claimed that she had slipped behind a wooden shed and he sat down on the ground with her and engaged in sexual activity with the victim until he became nauseous and walked away to throw up.
Turner stated, "It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her [Emily Doe] emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair."
On June 2, 2016, Doe read a 7,138-word victim impact statement aloud in the sentencing phase of the trial. The New York Times described the statement as a "cri de coeur against the role of privilege in the trial and the way the legal system deals with sexual assault". On June 3, 2016, Palo Alto Online and BuzzFeed published Doe's full statement. BuzzFeed's publication rapidly went viral, achieving over 8 million views in three days, driven by widespread sharing on social media.
In one statement, she detailed the negative effects Turner had on her life: "You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today." The statement also detailed the effect on Doe's ability to remain in her full-time job, which she left afterward "because continuing day to day was not possible."
Doe's statement also described her experience at the hospital and learning she was being treated for sexual assault: "The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. … My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me." Doe expresses gratitude to "the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability."
The statement articulated that "social class" should not be factored into the sentence: "The fact that Brock was a star athlete at a prestigious university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a strong cultural message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class." Doe also disagreed with the probation officer's assessment that Turner had shown remorse, stating that Turner had failed to show genuine remorse and this was a factor in her anger at the brief sentence.
The statement was subsequently formally released by Santa Clara County and was picked up by national and international media including the Washington Post, CBS News, Los Angeles Times, Time, San Jose Mercury News, Cosmopolitan and the UK's Daily Mail and The Guardian. The letter went viral, being shared over 11 million times in four days. CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield read most of the statement aloud during a 20-minute segment of CNN's Legal View.
On June 16, a bipartisan group of eighteen members of the House of Representatives took turns reading the statement on the House floor. Representative Jackie Speier organized the reading to raise awareness about sexual assault, and to promote her legislation on campus sexual assault. Paul Gosar said: "People need to learn from this, ... This should matter to everyone." Cheri Bustos claimed a need for more women in the house to bring the issue of sexual assault to the forefront. Vice President Joe Biden wrote Doe an open letter titled, "An Open Letter to a Courageous Young Woman", which read in part, "I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth."
Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern has described the statement as an "extraordinarily powerful letter and glad so many millions have read and been moved by it. But it had absolutely no place in the courtroom", noting that victim impact statements are a "a liberal bête noire, and rightly so, because they seriously undermine the defendant's due process rights".
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen stated that "The punishment does not fit the crime." Rosen described Turner as a "predatory offender" and stated he "has failed to take responsibility, failed to show remorse and failed to tell the truth." Rosen added, "Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape. And I will prosecute it as such."
A juror calling himself "A Concerned Juror" (he described the 12 as mostly male) said this was his first time as a juror and that he recently became a U.S. citizen after residing in the country for three decades. He wrote a letter to the judge expressing dissatisfaction with the sentencing length. The juror said that "the fact that Turner ran away after two Stanford graduate students noticed him on top of an unmoving woman" was compelling evidence along with the incoherence of the message that Doe left her boyfriend before meeting Brock. The juror believed this was very strong evidence "that Turner should have reasonably known she was not able to give consent."
Statements by Turner's family and friendsEdit
On June 4, Michele Dauber posted a letter written by Dan Turner, Brock's father, asking for leniency for his son, arguing that punishment was a "steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." The letter sparked outrage and was cited as an example of the prevalence of rape culture.
Dauber also circulated, again via Twitter, a letter written by Leslie Rasmussen, a female childhood friend of Turner, that defended Turner and blamed alcohol consumption and universities for advertising themselves as "party schools". The letter was met with further criticism. The publication of her letter, in which she also said Brock came from "a respectable family," led to cancellations of her band (Good English)'s engagements at a festival and clubs as far away as New York. Rasmussen soon disavowed the letter, writing on Facebook, "I did not acknowledge strongly enough the severity of Brock's crime and the suffering and pain that his victim endured, and for that lack of acknowledgement, I am deeply sorry."
Writing to the court and recommending against prison, Oakwood Judge Margaret M. Quinn, a Turner family friend and retired federal prosecutor, also blamed the assault on alcohol, minimizing Turner's culpability. "He made a mistake in drinking excessively to the point where he could not fully appreciate that his female acquaintance was so intoxicated. I know Brock did not go to that party intending to hurt, or entice, or overpower anyone."
Doe's family's statementsEdit
Her sister (referred to by police as "Jane Doe 2") wrote a letter saying "an entire part of my heart has been permanently broken" by the assault, the lengthy prosecution, and Turner's failure to take responsibility for his actions.
The Stanford University Department of Public Safety provided the initial response and investigation. A felony complaint was filed in the Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara on January 28, 2015.
Turner had a prior campus law enforcement encounter when he was found by Stanford University police to be a minor in possession of cans of beer on November 11, 2014. He was cited as well for possession of a counterfeit Ohio driver's license. In addition, after subsequent publicized reports of the January 18, 2015, sexual assault incident, another female reported that Turner had made similar unwelcome physical advances toward her at a Kappa Alpha party on January 9, 2015.
Jail and aftermathEdit
Turner was released from Santa Clara County jail on September 2, 2016, having served three months of his six-month sentence. The guards, who had kept him in protective custody during his stay, handed Turner a package of hate mail which had built up during his stay, as he exited.
Under the terms of his release, Turner was mandated to live with his parents in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, where he must register as a sex offender. He will be on probation for three years with reciprocal supervision through the Greene County, Ohio, Sheriff's Office. Conditions of probation included abstention from drugs and alcohol during that period.
The day of his release, Turner's parents contacted the police, expressing worry about protesters being a danger to their safety. The day after his release, protesters gathered on the sidewalk outside his family's Ohio home. One protester, while brandishing a gun in the "open carry" state, held a sign urging attendees to shoot "your local rapist."
At the time of his conviction, it was reported that Turner's legal appeal would be led by attorney Dennis Riordan, who represented former baseball player Barry Bonds in a perjury case. Riordan was present in court Thursday, June 2 with Turner's initial attorney Michael Armstrong.
In December 2017, Turner requested that his conviction be overturned, that his lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender be canceled, and that he be given a new trial, on the grounds that the prosecutor claimed that the assault took place behind a trash bin, but the victim was found behind a garbage enclosure; as well, Turner argued that the jury should have been given the option to consider less serious charges, and that he should have been able to call character witnesses. Oral arguments were given on June 28, 2018 in San Jose.
On August 8, 2018, Turner lost his appeal to overturn his conviction.
The public outrage at the sentence in the Turner case prompted the California State Legislature to pass two bills that would change California state law on sexual assault. Assembly Bill 701 would broaden California's definition of rape so that it would cover digital and penile penetration. Assembly Bill 2888 (written by District Attorney Jeff Rosen) would provide for a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence for sexual assault of an unconscious or intoxicated person. (Current California law provides a mandatory minimum prison sentence when a defendant uses force, but has no mandatory minimum sentence when the victim is unconscious or incapacitated and unable to resist.)
The final versions of A.B. 2888 and A.B. 701 were both unanimously approved by the California legislature. Both bills subsequently went to Governor Jerry Brown's desk. The bills were signed into law on September 30, 2016.
After these laws were enacted, state law from before 2016 continued to provide that where imprisonment in the state prison is imposed for rape (when the victim is not a minor) or for the crime of sexual penetration when the victim is "prevented from resisting by any intoxicating or anesthetic substance," the imprisonment is for a period of "three, six, or eight years."
The second edition of the criminal justice textbook Introduction to Criminal Justice (ISBN 9781506347721), by University of Colorado, Denver Professor Callie Marie Rennison and Mary Dodge, uses Turner's mugshot as the accompanying photo in the entry that defines rape. According to the caption beneath Turner's photo, which appears on Page 20 at the top of the section in the book on "rape":
Brock Turner, a Stanford student who raped and assaulted an unconscious female student behind a dumpster at a fraternity party, was recently released from jail after serving only three months. Some are shocked at how short the sentence is. Others who are more familiar with the way sexual violence has been handled in the criminal justice system are shocked that he was found guilty and served any time at all. What do you think?
In September 2017, an image of the page was widely circulated on social media. The book, which is available on Google Books, was published in January 2017. Rennison, who was awarded the Bonnie S. Fisher Victimology Career Award in 2016, explained in reference to her acceptance of that award that the textbook is her attempt to change the dialogue about victims of crime and its perpetrators within the criminal justice community, saying:
Existing criminal justice books have focused on three elements: cops, courts and corrections. They speak little about victims, reflecting how they have effectively been in the shadows of our criminal justice system. In our book, victims are front and center with equal emphasis as cops, courts and corrections. This is the way it should be.
In June 2018, Persky was recalled by Santa Clara County voters in that year's California elections by a margin of 60–40. He became the first judge to be recalled in California in over 86 years, and the first in the United States since 1977.
- Kadvany, Elena (March 18, 2016). "Alleged victim testifies in Brock Turner trial". Palo Alto Online. Archived from the original on March 28, 2016.
The 23-year-old woman whom former Stanford University student Brock Turner allegedly sexually assaulted on campus in the early hours of January 18, 2015, testified Friday afternoon in Palo Alto that she had no memory of the incident.
- Kadvany, Elena (October 5, 2015). "Woman in Stanford sexual-assault case testifies". PaloAltoOnline.com. Archived from the original on October 9, 2015.
Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci, who works with the county's sexual-assault unit, questioned "Emily Doe" for about an hour at the Palo Alto Courthouse on Monday, as well as two other witnesses – Doe's sister, and one of the graduate students who intervened that night, Peter Jonsson.
- Lee, Jacqueline; Kaplan, Tracey (March 22, 2016). "Witness: Stanford rape defendant had victim's DNA on fingers". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
A red-brown substance that the criminalist said resembles blood and contains the woman's DNA was found under Turner's fingernails on his right and left hands and part of his right finger, Lee said. The substance was similar in color to a fluid taken from her vagina, he said, bolstering the prosecution's argument that he digitally penetrated her. However, the criminalist told the Santa Clara County Superior Court jury there is no way to tell definitively if it was blood. He also acknowledged under cross-examination by defense attorney Armstrong that the tests do not show when the DNA was deposited. On Friday, the Palo Alto woman was in tears as she testified that she woke up in the hospital with pine needles in her disheveled hair, dried blood on her hands and elbows
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Turner was arrested Jan. 18, 2015, after two graduate students found him on top of an unconscious woman outside Kappa Alpha fraternity at approximately 1 a.m.
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Tiffany Doe, the woman's younger sister
- Dremann, Sue (March 28, 2016). "Brock Turner case goes to jury". Palo Alto Online. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
Armstrong said that testimony by Doe's own sister, Tiffany, refutes the prosecution's claims
- Styles, Ruth (June 11, 2016). "Sister of Stanford rape victim pens angry message to Brock Turner". Daily Mail. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
Sister known as Jane Doe 2
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Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey Paul Taylor of the Stanford Department of Public Safety was the first officer on the scene. The woman, he said Tuesday, was lying near an access road behind a Dumpster. Taylor checked her pulse, and she began to snore, but she remained unconscious, he said. (..) At the hospital, he shook her shoulders, trying to wake her. Taylor shouted to her in a loud voice, a foot away from her face: "Please wake up. Can you help me understand who you are?" he recalled. Emily finally came to at 4:15 a.m.
- Quotation from the journalist, not the woman testifying. Kaplan, Tracey (March 23, 2016). "Sex assault trial: Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner testifies drunk woman consented". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
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Turner, now 20, said he had about five Rolling Rock beers and a couple of sips of Fireball throughout the night.
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- Cleary, Tom (June 8, 2016). "Brock Turner's Full Statement to Judge Aaron Persky". Heavy.com. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
In his 11-page statement, Turner said he was getting sick because of the amount of alcohol he drank when he was approached by the two students
- Siemaszko, Corky (June 6, 2016). "Recall Effort Launched Against Judge Aaron Persky in Stanford Rape Case". NBCnews.com.
Turner admitted having sex with the woman after drinking nine beers and whiskey at a party, but he denied raping her.
- Kaplan, Tracey (March 22, 2016). "Expert witness falters in sex assault trial of former Stanford swimmer". The Mercury News. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
The woman's blood-alcohol was more than .24, or three times the legal limit. Turner's blood-alcohol content was .17, or more than twice the legal limit of .08.
- Sanchez, Ray (June 11, 2016). "Stanford rape case: Inside the court documents". CNN.com.
The victim finally regained consciousness about 4:15 a.m. at a hospital.
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Turner has been charged with five felony counts: rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an unconscious woman, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an intoxicated woman, and assault with intent to commit rape
- Aydin, Rebecca (October 6, 2015). "Brock Turner, accused of rape last winter, undergoes preliminary hearing". www.stanforddaily.com. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
Turner pleaded not guilty last February to the five felony charges against him, including rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman, sexual penetration of an unconscious woman and assault with intent to commit rape.
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- The 1 million figure refers to a petition on change.org. "Other petitions at moveon.org and the White House's We the People site have each garnered more than 100,000 signatures." McLaughlin, Eliott C. (June 10, 2016). "1 million sign petition to oust judge in Brock Turner case. Will it matter?". CNN. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
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After the guilty verdict, Turner continued to insist to his probation officer that the encounter was consensual. He said the victim had simply slipped behind a wooden shed and then he got down on the ground with her and started kissing and fingering her until he got nauseous and decided to walk away.
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Turner's ex-girlfriend is one of at least 39 people who submitted statements to the court defending the convicted felon's character. In a letter included in court documents from Turner's trial obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Lydia Pocisk refers to Turner as her "dearest friend" ... Drawing from her past experiences with him, she attests to his character calling him a "kind, loving, respectful, relaxed, silently hilarious, and determined individual."
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Sheriff Laurie Smith .. said jail guards gave Turner a big package of hate mail sent to him over the last three months and that Turner lived in protective custody in jail after receiving threats.
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Turner's parents are scared for their son's safety ... so much so they've asked cops to help them deal with protesters and others who might do him harm
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One protester carried a sign that read, 'Shoot your local rapist,' while brandishing a gun.
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