Brock Turner, the 21-year-old former Stanford University student and convicted rapist whose sexual assault case ignited debate on the issues of privilege and a systemic bias against victims, has walked from Santa Clara County Jail a free man.
Back in March, Turner was found guilty of the January 2015 sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman. He was sentenced in June for intent to commit rape of an intoxicated / unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person.
For those crimes, he served just three months of his unconscionably lenient six month sentence due to good behaviour behind bars.
Video footage from the Californian facility shows Turner avoiding questions from a flock of reporters before climbing into an SUV.
Brock Turner leaving jail pic.twitter.com/9jglfnxhYD
— Ellen Cushing (@elcush) September 2, 2016
It makes sense why he’d choose to dodge questions, considering the mass condemnation of his lenient sentencing and the furore surrounding the entire case.
Judge Aaron Persky, who has since removed himself from adjudicating criminal cases, continues to face widespread criticism for handing down the six month sentence.
Of course, the prosecutor originally pushed for Turner to serve six years in state prison, and Turner would likely have served at least two if not for Judge Persky’s intervention.
Critics, including state politicians, continue to rail for voters to recall Judge Persky from serving at all.
Speaking outside the jail, Senate hopeful Loretta Sanchez said “today, Brock Turner is a free man, and yet women who have been sexually assaulted are still prisoners of fear” due to the continued service of judges like Persky.
Protesters also camped outside the facility yesterday, chanting for Judge Persky to resign or be removed from his post due to his apparent bias towards white, affluent offenders.
While the results of that campaign are yet to be seen, US lawmakers recently voted 66-0 to close the loophole that allowed the six month sentence to be handed down at all.
At the time of Turner’s sentencing, minimum sentences without probation only applied to sexual assault cases involving penile penetration; Turner committed the assault digitally, allowing Judge Persky to opt for more lenient sentencing
However, the new law will apply the same punishment to “those convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object and oral sex if the victim was unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.”
That’s great news for redressing a glaring systemic fault, but there is still so, so much work to be done in fixing the culture that emboldened Judge Persky to hand down that sentence – and the culture that contributed to Turner’s abhorrent actions in the first place.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or abuse, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.