Jan Murray

“I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”

A rape victim found herself afraid of her own body because someone else used her body—without her consent or knowledge—to perform sexual acts upon.

Disgusting.

In California, at a sentencing hearing on June 2, a 20-year-old supposedly all-American boy, top student and former Stanford University swimmer, was sentenced to six months in the county jail for three sexually based felonies. Brock Allen Turner was arrested Jan. 18, 2015, after two graduate students found him on top of an unconscious woman outside a fraternity house on the university campus. Disturbingly, his scheduled release date is Sept. 2, three months short of his full sentence.

Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault—assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. He was first charged with five felony counts.

The judge in the case—Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky—could have sentenced him to 14 years (I would think even longer for such offenses, but…). During sentencing, the judge said he was giving the shorter sentence because he was concerned anything more would have a “severe impact” on Turner. Isn’t that the point of punishment for a violent crime?

Judge Persky, what about the severe impact Turner’s actions have had and will continue to have on the victim?

There is outrage nationwide over this light sentence and a petition is now circulating on various outlets to remove the judge—unopposed in an upcoming election—from the bench.

At the very least, I believe the judge should be disciplined in some way if there is a course of action for that in California.

I wonder if Persky has a daughter or a wife. Whether or not he does, I don’t know, but he apparently didn’t stop to think about the message he is sending to them and all females—so sorry, but if you drink and pass out, it is perfectly okay for a male or anybody to rape you, especially if that person is one of privilege, you know suffering from “affluenza.”

Really?

Many following the story became more enraged when a statement presented to the judge by the defendant’s father, Dan Turner, was made public.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life,” said Dan Turner. “The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan. 17, 2015.”

The above is only a small portion of a two-page, single-spaced plea to the judge by the perpetrator’s father. The judge apparently listened because when he sentenced the former swimmer he noted the young man has no prior criminal history.

Did you notice the last part of that quote? “He…has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan. 17, 2015.”

Never. Been. Violent.

What the heck does Daddy Turner think rape is? Just 20 minutes of action, apparently.

Disgusting. Incomprehensible.

I believe Brock Turner has had a life of privilege in the Midwest and his Daddy has fixed everything for him for his entire life. I doubt, seriously, Brock Turner has ever had to learn about mistakes and consequences and likely has had most everything handed to him.

Affluence.

If someone of less affluence or perhaps a different ethnicity had committed this crime, what do you bet that such a person would have received a lengthier sentence? I would just about bet my life on it.

What about the victim?

She had the guts to face her attacker during the sentencing hearing and read a 7,000-plus-word statement aloud in court. It was and is powerful.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” the young lady said.

How telling is that. It sends shivers down my spine.

The young woman admitted to accompanying a younger sister to the fraternity party and letting her “guard down,” drinking liquor too fast for her tolerance. That makes her careless, not a criminal and certainly not deserving of a sexual assault.

The victim remembers awaking in the hospital and finding pine needles in her hair, missing her underwear, dried blood on her hands and elbows and then being told by a law enforcement officer that she had been assaulted.

“…all that I was told (that morning) was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger…One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize…I could not digest or accept any of this information…In the public news, I learned that my (private body parts) were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an (descriptive word) freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body.”

She should not have to digest that information. The event should have never happened. Alcohol or not, Brock Turner knew very well his victim was unconscious when he thrust himself into her being, forever changing both of their lives. He knew and there are no excuses for it, no matter how he was raised.

He can be forgiven and should be, but he should have to suffer the consequences of his actions. Period.

Brock Turner, his family, female lifelong friends and his legal eagles have tried repeatedly to make him out to be the victim. For the most part, the man has not admitted to assaulting the victim.

The two graduate students from Sweden who came upon the assault while it was in progress have spoken out and described how traumatizing it has been for them to deal with the horror of what they saw. They are true heroes because they did not turn and look the other way, but instead went to the young woman’s rescue, chased Brock Turner, caught him and held him until police arrived.

Despite what Brock Turner’s father, attorney and friends say, Brock Turner is most certainly not the victim. He is the assailant, the rapist. A 23-year-old woman is the victim.

Brock and Dan Turner need to get real with that fact. Actually, all judges who fail to appropriately sentence perpetrators of such offenses need to get real. You see, light sentences are not just a problem in this case, but a problem nationwide.

If people and those in power don’t change their way of thinking, then young men, old men, any man will continue to sexually assault women and think it is perfectly ok, especially if they’ve never been taught that Mommy and Daddy can’t fix everything.

Rape is about control. Brock Turner took control of an unconscious, incapacitated woman. He had no right.

Accountability. That is what it ultimately boils down to in this case.

Perhaps the victim, herself, said it best in her seven-page statement.

“Your (Brock) life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story…But, right now you do not get to shrug your shoulders…Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct,” she said. “We both have a choice, we can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on…”

Sexual assault is serious and should be treated as such. Judges need to truly understand that and not allow their judgment to be clouded by status and the “who’s who” of society.

Be fair. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Jan Murray is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at jmurray@southeastsun.com.

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