The father of convicted rapist and former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner says his son shouldn't go to jail for "20 minutes of action." The sentencing of Turner, who was found guilty of three felonies for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015, to only six months by the judge overseeing the case for fear that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact on him” has sparked outrage and led to calls for a recall of the judge.
According to the Guardian, Brock Turner faced up to 14 years in prison but will now serve only a fraction of that in a county jail. In a statement provided to the court and published in part by ESPN, Turner's father, Dan A. Turner said his son deserved leniency.
"His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," wrote Dan Turner. "That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life."
His plea, it seems, did not fall on deaf ears as Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky decided that a lack of a prior criminal record meant the younger Turner should be spared a harsher sentence lest it have a "severe impact on him."
The San Jose Mercury News reports that with good behavior, he'll likely only be in jail for three months.
The details in the case are disturbing — captured in part by a powerful statement released by the victim (whose name has not been released). "[All] that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately," she writes in the letter picked up by Buzzfeed.
Turner was discovered, mid-assault, by two passing students. Turner tried to flee, but the students chased him down on bicycles, tackled him, and held him until police arrived.
"The sad reality is that sexual assaults are committed by people you'd never expect, by people who look like Mr. Turner," the Mercury News reports Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci as saying. "The fact that he looks a certain way should not give him any leniency."
Meanwhile, one prominent blogger has suggested a recall effort aimed at Judge Persky, and a change.org petition working to have Persky removed is also racking up signatures — passing 15,000 at the time of this publication.
The write-in deadline for candidates has passed; it seems it would take ~8000 signatures to recall Persky.— Anil Dash (@anildash) June 5, 2016
"He is a lifetime sex registrant," wrote the victim of Turner. "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."
Turner's lawyers plan on appealing the conviction.
In a brief interview today with The Guardian, the victim spoke movingly of her decision to remain anonymous and the outpouring of support for her on social media. “I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity," she explained. "But it is also as a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it."
"I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to," she continued. "I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now, I am everywoman.”
Update: Stanford today released a statement, embedded below in its entirety, regarding its role in the case.
Stanford University did everything within its power to assure that justice was served in this case, including an immediate police investigation and referral to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for a successful prosecution.
Stanford urges its students to do the right thing and intervene and we are proud of our students for stopping this incident. Many other student witnesses cooperated in the investigation. Once Stanford learned the identity of the young woman involved, the university reached out confidentially to offer her support and to tell her the steps we were taking. In less than two weeks after the incident, Stanford had conducted an investigation and banned Turner from setting foot on campus - as a student or otherwise. This is the harshest sanction that a university can impose on a student.
There has been a significant amount of misinformation circulating about Stanford’s role. In this case, Stanford University, its students, its police and its staff members did everything they could. Stanford University takes the issue of sexual assault extremely seriously and has been a national leader in taking concrete steps to implement prevention programs, to train students on the importance of bystander intervention, to provide support to students who may experience sexual assault and to assure that cases are handled fairly and justly.
This was a horrible incident, and we understand the anger and deep emotion it has generated. There is still much work to be done, not just here, but everywhere, to create a culture that does not tolerate sexual violence in any form and a judicial system that deals appropriately with sexual assault cases.
Second Update: Brock Turner's father today spoke out about the uproar surrounding his "20 minutes of action" comment. “What I meant with that comment is a 20 minute period of time," The Huffington Post reports Dan Turner as saying. "I was not referring to sexual activity by the word ‘action.’ It was an unfortunate choice of words and I did not mean to be disrespectful or offensive to anyone.”
That he appears to view a sexual assault as somehow less deserving of prison time if lasts under 21 minutes was not addressed.