Brock Turner’s Sentencing Proves We Really Don’t Care About Rape

Convicted sex offender Brock Turner received one of the lightest sentences imaginable for such horrific crimes, short of literally slapping his wrists and telling him rape is bad. In March, Turner was found guilty of three felony sexual assault charges, at which time the prosecution recommended he be sentenced to six years in state prison as he posed a “continued threat to the community.”

Instead, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to six months in county jail and probation, claiming Turner’s age and lack of criminal history were factors in his decision and “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”

Judge Persky has apparently forgotten a very simple but critical aspect of our criminal justice system—if you’re convicted of a violent crime, your sentence is supposed to have a serious impact on you. This is true regardless of whether you look like an overgrown Boy Scout, go to a fancy school, or can swim really fast. Yes, even if you can swim Olympic fast.

A successful justice system should really accomplish at least three things: 1) Provide some kind of justice for the victim, 2) Prevent dangerous criminals from hurting others, and 3) Deter future crime. In a moving statement, the victim herself best explained the importance of an impactful sentence: “We cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault…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.”

This sentence did none of the above. Instead, Judge Persky told every rape victim in America that the impact of their sexual assault (which often includes depression, PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse and thoughts of suicide) does not justify putting their rapist away for a reasonable amount of time, lest it have a “serious impact” on his wellbeing.

The message they’re hearing right now is that they may as well stay silent because even if they put themselves through the hellish process of reporting the rape, being examined for a rape kit, and going to trial, their rapist will still get away with it even if he technically doesn’t. Violating a woman and forever changing her life is, apparently, not a big deal.

Victims can see very clearly that the crimes committed against them aren’t taken seriously. We’re telling them loud and clear that women can be violated with impunity, and they’re not the only ones getting that message.

Approximately 32 percent of college men surveyed said they’d force a woman to have sex with them if they knew no one would find out and there wouldn’t be any consequences. So, about one-third of college men are willing to rape a women as long as they’ll get away with it, and currently, getting away with it is pretty much guaranteed.

Since only 2 percent of rapists will ever spend a day in prison, the other 98 percent walk free. Not only does this mean rapists aren’t being punished for their crimes, it’s leaving them free to commit them again, and about 20 percent of them will.

In this case, the victim hasn’t received her due justice and this outcome certainly hasn’t deterred any potential rapists, so what about Brock Turner? Despite being convicted of a violent crime, Judge Persky thinks that Turner “will not be a danger to others” when he’s released.

One would certainly hope, but Turner’s own words are not so convincing. At this point, Turner appears unrepentant and seems to believe that all of this was caused by too much alcohol and sexual promiscuity rather than his own malicious actions, a perspective he may have picked up from his father. It seems very unlikely Turner has learned anything from this trial besides “don’t get caught.”

Our criminal justice system is supposed to make us safer by putting away people who, like Brock Turner, have proven themselves dangerous to others. But thanks to Judge Persky, Brock Turner will be free in six months and there’s no sign he even understands what he did was wrong. Exactly how safe does that make you feel?

Please sign and share this Care2 petition demanding that Judge Aaron Persky be removed from the bench for this gross miscarriage of justice!

Photo Credit: Stanford University's Department of Public Safety

138 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

Sad. The judicial system failed again.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Deborah W.
Deborah W2 years ago

Truth is, most don't really give a shit about anything unless it hits personal space. Decaying society front and center.

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Karen H.
Karen H2 years ago

Our laws definitely need to be updated. Turner was NOT charged with rape because California law defines rape as: "physical force, intimidation, duress, or threats to persuade the victim to engage in sexual intercourse." Turner didn't use force, intimidation, duress or threats; therefore, he is not considered a convicted rapist. In most states, rape is defined as "forcible sexual relations with a person against that person's will." What about lack of consent? What about having sex with an unconscious person? How much force is required if the victim is unconscious? What about shoving fingers or foreign objects into the victim’s vagina, anus, mouth? We need to redefine rape so there's no doubt when it comes to sentencing.

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Karen H.
Karen H2 years ago

Marc P, so sorry to hear of your abuse--but how brave of you to talk about it and how wonderful you could forgive. Sorry, but I can only give you one star. The reactions of people toward rape victims is very similar to Trump's comments on McCain: "He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." Victim blamers think, "These people are losers. I like people who weren't raped." Because they don’t like "losers", they add to the trauma by re-victimizing. They should be thinking, "There but for the grace of God..." and asking themselves, "What can I do to help this person rather than make his/her life more painful?"

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Marianne C.
Marianne C2 years ago

P.S.

There are plenty of people who WILL say that a woman who offends against young boys, although they are much fewer and farther between that male perpetrators, should "have it sewn shut."

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Marianne C.
Marianne C2 years ago

@ Marc P:

Sexual abuse should not have happened to you. It should not happen to anybody.
You were a kid, and had no power in the scenario you described. You survived, and that is the only "right" think to do. I'm glad you found the courage and the means to have the perpetrator locked up.

Despite what you say, I still believe some people do deserve to die in prison, because some people are predators all their lives. If we stopped them and removed them from society when they were only 20-year-old predators, or only 25-year-old predators, or even only 30-year-old predators, we could spare another 20-40 years' worth of targets the pain of the abuse and the agony of the aftermath.

40 years is not enough time to forgive an unrepentant, entitled predator who goes unpunished, and goes right on preying on innocent victims.

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