At the sentencing trial for Brock Turner, convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford University, Judge Aaron Persky relied on a handful of public testimonies to inform his final decision. Two of them have already made the rounds across social media — one written by Turner’s father, the other by a close friend — due to their controversial, “tone-deaf” opposition to Turner’s punishment. But there’s little chatter about the letters sent in support of Turner’s victim, demanding Persky treat Turner like he would any other rapist.
His crime was serious, and his sentence should also be serious.
These letters were led by campus sexual assault prevention groups, namely Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention, Stanford “Scary Path” Initiative (named for the alleyway where Turner committed the rape), and the Stanford Fearless Conference on Sexual Assault Prevention and Education. And the hundreds of people who added their signature to the letters represent a variety of other campus demographics: student government officials, student newspaper reporters, professors, and even members of university fraternity houses.
Both letters take a very different tone than the two in support of Turner that have been widely publicized this week. They stress the danger of Persky handing Turner a light sentence — which is, despite their argument, what he ultimately did.
The Stanford Rapist’s Father Offers An Impossibly Offensive Defense Of His SonJustice by CREDIT: Shutterstock Former Stanford University student Brock Turner was found guilty Thursday for sexually…thinkprogress.org“If the court imposes a light sentence on Mr. Turner it will send a dangerous message to other students that in the eyes of the law, ‘party rape’ is not really a serious crime,” the authors write. “It will treat a campus assault as somehow less serious than one that occurs off campus.”
This is an outcome that Stanford law professor Michele Dauber — who’s leading the campaign to recall Judge Persky — also fears. In a Tuesday interview, she told ThinkProgress that a lenient ruling essentially says, “If you commit a sexual assault on Stanford grounds, lucky you.”
Mr. Turner received extensive training on consent.
The letters warn that this will only make rape victims less likely to report their assault, knowing that the trauma of recanting their experience in court — and potential publicity of their case — may end with little victory, if one at all.
In Turner’s own testimony, he appears comfortable passing the blame, arguing that sexual assault stems from ‘party culture’ on college campuses. “ I’ve been shattered by the party culture,” Turner told Persky in court.
In their letters, the students argue Turner shouldn’t be able to fall back on this defense, particularly since he went through a mandatory training about sexual consent at Stanford.
“Mr. Turner received extensive training on consent. This is not a case of someone who just didn’t know what he was doing and made a mistake,” they write.
The group made sure to point out the many favorable factors on Turner’s side in this case, in hopes of Persky taking them into consideration. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/06/06/3784952/letter-victim-blaming-turner/
“The fact that he had good grades or a lot of supportive teachers and coaches, or a lot of athletic accomplishment, and devoted parents and a nice house is not a good reason to treat him less severely than someone who has lacked those advantages,” they write.
“In fact, the opposite is true. He should be treated more severely because in spite of having every advantage in life, he committed these horrible crimes against a totally defenseless person.”