The case of Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman behind a trash bin after a party has set a firestorm across the nation via the web.
Turner, who many media outlets touted as a standout swimmer, has used the defense of alcohol consumption and even went as far as saying consent was given, while the victim has maintained no consent was given, and yes, she may have drank too much that night.
In a moving 12-page speech the victim gave directly to Turner, she offered him no room for excuses, citing both of their lives shave been changed forever.
Turner was given a six-month sentence, with the judge pointing out that he was not convicted of rape under California law, but three counts of sexual assault. The boy’s father caught media attention when he said his son shouldn’t serve the maximum 14 years in prison for “20 minutes of action.”
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So, it sent our debaters in a whirl: Was the six-month sentence justified and are we, as a nation, overreacting to a case we only know on the surface?
Who better to leave the “point” of this argument than to the victim herself. Here is an excerpt of the statement she read at Turner’s sentencing:
“Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity.” By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.
“The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.
“As this is a first offense I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.
“The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.
“The probation officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.
“What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.
“He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.”
There is no counterpoint. Alcohol consumption and promiscuity is no excuse for unwanted sexual advances of any kind.
If you or someone you know needs to talk about about sexual assault or rape, call the Rape Crisis Center of Horry and Georgetown counties at 843-448-7273.