Stanford rapist Brock Turner, who made headlines earlier this year when he was sentenced to a mere 6 months for 3 counts of sexual assault (all of which he was found guilty for), was released Friday September 2 having served half of his sentence. He is now expected to return to his hometown in Ohio, where he must be registered as a known sex offender as well as serve 3 years of probation. Outside his parents’ home where he plans to reside, protesters have been gathering with placards and sidewalk chalk to ensure their new neighbor gets the welcome home he deserves.
Under the conditions of Turner’s probation, he will undergo polygraph tests, and will likely attend group counseling aimed at treating the cognitive behavior behind sexual assault. Ohio’s system for dealing with sex offenders is separated into three tiers; Turner’s crime reportedly makes him eligible for the highest tier, Tier 3, which would require him to register changes in address and place of employment as well as enrollment in educational institutions. If Turner is registered as a Tier 3 offender, he will also be expected to register with the Sherriff every 90 days for the rest of his life. Apart from such additional obligations associated with different tiers, as it’s unclear which he will be officially assigned to, Turner will be prohibited from residing closer than 1, 000 feet from a school or day care and is banned from working or interacting with children. What he won’t be facing, however, is the prison sentence he should have served for his crime.
While initially a 14-year term was a possibility for Turner and prosecutors pressed for a 6 year term, Judge Aaron Persky acted upon the recommendation of the probation department and decided upon 6 months of jail time for the now 21-year old Stanford student. This drew major backlash even from other Californian authorities: Laurie Smith, the sherriff of Santa Clara County, referred to the case as having ended with a “wrong sentence” and Palo Alto Mayor Patrick Burt called out Judge Persky for a “biased and distorted sense of justice,” also saying that he was known to favor defendants with whom he identified. Persky has since opted to rule on civil court cases only starting this September after a campaign to recall him gained momentum, but he’s done his damage with this case.
Perhaps the only bright side to Turner’s absurdly short sentence is that it prompted the creation of a new Californian bill meant to close the legal loophole that allowed him to get away with 6 months for three felonies. More specifically, the purpose of Bill AB2888, enrolled on August 30, is to “prohibit a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, or oral copulation if the victim was either unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication,” according to California Legislative Information.
The Brock Turner case shone a spotlight on unconscious rape, a crime which does not carry a mandatory prison sentence under current Californian law. This is due to the fact that raping a severely intoxicated or unconscious individual does not involve use of force on the rapist’s part, and it’s the presence or lack thereof of force that is instrumental in determining whether time in prison is required. As such, rape of conscious victims, in which there is a struggle, carries a harsher punishment. Bill AB2888 has been submitted to the governor and will be either signed into law or vetoed by September 30. The lawmakers behind it intend that this bill, if enacted, will prevent another ruling like this one from ever occurring again; at the very least, it will ensure that sexual assault on unconscious individuals does not legally permit a sentence significantly lighter than the same crime committed with conscious individuals.
This article was written by Jade Carraway, a writer for dusk magazine.