Millions around the world watched last week as the door of Santa Clara County Jail opened and Brock Turner walked free after serving just three months of a six-month sentence. The 20-year-old former Stanford swimmer was just released early, from what could’ve been a 14-year sentence, after being convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault. This case affects every student across the country, whether they know it or not.
Part of this baffling problem is class privilege. While he will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the slap on the wrist sentence for Turner would not have existed for a poorer man of any minority race. For example, in July, former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping an unconscious woman in 2013. Brian Banks, a former NFL linebacker, was wrongfully accused of rape in 2002 and served five years in federal prison.
The Stanford victim in the Turner case wrote a letter about the incident and how she was affected by the situation. It was read aloud in open court and later released to the public. Two Stanford graduate students who rescued the victim testified as witnesses as well. Turner still served only three months behind bars despite the overwhelming amount of evidence dictating a much harsher penalty should have been handed down.
This case only goes to show how far we have yet to come in our criminal justice reform, especially in the area of sexual assault. The maximum for sexual assault and battery is different in every state. The consensus is rape and sexual assault should be taken seriously no matter where it happens.
Judge Aaron Persky has since stepped down from ruling on any criminal cases. His defense of taking Turner “at his word,” and a longer prison sentence having “a severe impact on Turner” is enough to reveal Persky did not take the case seriously enough.
This case, however, has made Turner’s face recognizable and plastered a message for all of those who would seek to escape the scrutiny of the judiciary system.
ORU’s university procedures for sexual assault are listed under the Title IX policies: “The Title IX Coordinator will cause a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation to be initiated, which may lead to the imposition of sanctions.”
It is the student body’s duty to be vigilant and alert even though we are in an environment where rape and sexual assault can be discussed and ultimately prevented. Awareness and change goes beyond watching and feeling pity for the victim. Change begins with arming the student body with truth and knowledge, so that they can change their world.