Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner received a 6 month jail sentence for sexually assaulting a fellow female student because the judge deemed the trial itself as enough of a punishment, according to new reports.
The presiding judge of Santa Clara County, Aaron Persky, concluded what many are calling a “slap on the wrist” as sufficient because media attention and legal proceedings were already stressful and disciplinary for Turner.
The ex-Stanford swimmer blamed the university’s “party culture” and the pervasive temptations from booze that permeate social life on campus, according to a letter he sent to the judge prior to the sentencing
Turner has not admitted that he sexually assaulted the woman, despite the guilty verdict. Both the victim and the prosecutor highlighted the feigned apology and what they consider a blatant lack of remorse during the trial.
Persky said the 39 character references helped convince him that Turner deserved a shorter sentence. Persky cited one in particular — from friend Leslie Rasmussen — as one that stood out. “It sort of corroborates the evidence of his character up until the night of this incident, which has been positive,” the judge said.
Rusmussen contends that her statements were distorted and misconstrued by the media and in doing so the statement comes off as sympathy for “‘sex offenses and those who commit them … Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I apologize for anything my statement has done to suggest that I don’t feel enormous sympathy for the victim and her suffering.'”
Persky also explained that the Jane Doe statement made by the anonymous victim also resonated with him. “So, as she writes, ‘the damage is done,’ The role of the Court at sentencing is to essentially follow the road map that our system of criminal justice sets out for the Court in sentencing decisions. It’s not completely an unbridled discretion. It is constrained by factors that are contained in the Rules of Court.”
Persky is facing a bombardment of criticism for the sentence. There have been more than 1.2 million people so far who have signed a petition demanding the judge removed from the bench. The recall effort is growing stronger as various legal and civic organizations have coalesced to navigate through the statutory intricacies of dismissing a judge.
Turner received a lifetime ban from competing at the Olympics and is now a registered sex offender for life, a criminal tag that is virtually impossible to get removed.
The man convicted of sexually assault will most likely serve half of his six-month sentence, along as he is considered to have “good behavior” during his prison sentence.
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