Every Major Development in the Stanford Rape Case, in One Place
On January 17, 2015, Brock Turner, then a student at Stanford University, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.
The sexual assault was witnessed by two grad students passing by on bicycles, who tackled the rapist, who tried to flee, and helped the victim. Turner was found guilty of the crime in court.
Here are all the things people are talking about, and saying, surrounding the now-infamous Stanford rape case.
1. Turner got a light sentence for his crime
After almost a year and a half, a judge finally sentenced Turner ... to six months in county jail.
The internet exploded with outrage. Tons of people have voiced their opinions in strongly-worded letters, provoking more responses and discussions.
Why the light sentence? The violent attack could have landed Turner in jail for 14 years. Prosecutors asked the judge to put Turner away for six years. But the judge decided to be lenient and sentenced the 20-year-old rapist to a fraction of that time. And he might end up staying for only three months, if he behaves well.
Defending his decision, Judge Aaron Persky said,
"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others."
The whole Brock Turner case makes me sick to my stomach. The justice system is a joke.
— kenz (@MackenzieHays) June 10, 2016
2. Many have called for the judge to be fired
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) June 10, 2016
The judge's statement didn't satisfy a lot of people. Over 1 million people have signed a Change.org petition calling for the judge to be impeached. (Judges can't technically be fired, but they can be recalled from the bench.) Prospective jurors in a later case refused to serve when they found out Judge Pesky would preside.
The argument? The light sentence doesn't fit the violent and horrendous crime. Many attribute the light sentence to the fact that Turner is a white upper-class male. (Studies find that black men receive sentences that are 20% longer than those of white men.) Oh, and Persky also went to Stanford.
3. The survivor went public with her powerful statement
It starts with the words,
"You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today."
The survivor then goes on to recall, in searing detail, her memories of that night and its aftermath, including the horrifying effect it has had on her life. The brutally vivid letter spread like wildfire.
— Harry Allen (@harryallen) June 7, 2016
CNN's Ashleigh Banfield read it live on the air.
"I hope that by reading it into the record, by elevating this issue, that we’re going to take some steps to provide leadership on the federal level to address sexual assault on campus and in the military."
4. The vice president of the United States responded
Even VP Joe Biden was moved to write an open letter to the woman being called the Stanford Survivor.
"You are a warrior."
— espnW (@espnW) June 10, 2016
Biden--who has gone around the country trying to change rape culture on campus--praised the survivor's bravery:
"I am in awe of your courage for speaking out — for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity. And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth."
5. The rapist's father defended his son
It wasn't just the light sentence the public found repulsive. The collective outcry also focused on Dan Turner's defense of his son in court.
Dan Turner father argued that Brock should just get probation, not jail, and attempted to invoke sympathy for his son by detailing he bright future he had had before him. In the father's most often quoted line, he said,
"His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life."
So basically, the father is painting sexually assaulting an unconscious woman as getting "action," and that he son doesn't deserve to pay for his crime. Dan Turner even suggested Brock was a victim who was suffering in this situation, unable to enjoy the foods he loves.
Brock Turner isn't an athlete who made a mistake, he's a rapist who can swim. #BrockTurnerIsARapistNotASwimmer
— haley (@ayyeitshaleyy_) June 10, 2016
— Ryou Bakura (@HashBrownShawty) June 10, 2016
Brock Turner's father says his son has paid a steep price for '20 min of action'...that caused a lifetime of damage for this victim.
— Molly Qerim (@MollyQerim) June 10, 2016
Whether a rape lasts 20 mins or 2 days, what I know is that the impact lasts a lifetime for all the courageous survivors I know #brockturner
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) June 10, 2016
One writer took it upon herself to fix the statement for him.
Here, I fixed his letter (changes in bold)... pic.twitter.com/qsa8TZWsPJ
— Ali Ozeri (@alexandraozeri) June 6, 2016
6. Another dad responded to Turner's father
Dan Turner's statement wasn't the only viral letter from a father to come out of this case.
Jon Pavlovitz, an author and pastor and a father himself, penned a letter on his blog taking Dan Turner to task for defending his son:
"I need you to understand something, and I say this as a father who dearly loves my son as much as you must love yours:
Brock is not the victim here.
His victim is the victim.
She is the wounded one.
He is the damager."
7. A friend of Turner's got backlash for defending him
Dan Turner was also not the only one to defend the Stanford rapist during his trial. Almost 40 people served as character witnesses for Brock Turner, including a longtime friend named Leslie Rasmussen. She famously blamed "political correctness" for the response to the rape. She also insisted that Turner isn't a real rapist and that alcohol, not Brock, is responsible for his actions.
"I don't think it's fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn't remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn't right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn't always because people are rapists."
Rasmussen is in a band, The Good English, and they had to cancel their Brooklyn tour due to outrage over her statement.
The girl harping on alcohol being a contributing factor in Brock Turner sexually assaulting an unconscious woman is the dumbest human alive.
— Simply Perfect Girl (@SimplyPerfGirl) June 10, 2016
After the outrage broke out, Rasmussen apologized and admitted she has a lot to learn.
8. Turner's guidance counselor recanted her support
"I plead with you to consider the good things — the positive contributions — he can make to his community if given a chance to reclaim his life."
She got backlash too, and she published a statement walking back her support:
"In the statement I submitted to the judge during the criminal proceedings and before sentencing referencing Brock’s character, I made a mistake. Of course he should be held accountable. I pray for the victim, her family and all those affected by this horrible event. I am truly sorry for the additional pain my statement has caused. I tell my students they have to be accountable, and Brock is no exception."
9. The Swedish bikers shared their story
Swedish PhD students Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson were cycling to a party when they saw a Turner raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Arndt said,
"We saw that she was not moving, while he was moving a lot. So we stopped and thought, ‘This is very strange.’ When he got up we saw that she still wasn’t moving at all."
Brock Turner is blowing up but these men (Carl Fredrik and Peter Jonsson) rescued the girl and called the police. RT pic.twitter.com/vMqZePrYMn
— Tweet Like A Girl (@TweetLikeAGirI) June 10, 2016
They spoke to Turner briefly, and then he took off. As Turner ran, one of the bikers chased him while the other made sure the woman was still alive. The survivor says she was told one of the men had trouble giving a statement because he was weeping over what he had seen.
Fortunately this story has heroes who stopped to intervene and help the young woman. But many have asked: If the sexual assault hadn't been witnessed, and interrupted, by these two men, would anyone have believed her? If Turner hadn't been caught in the act, would he have been brought to justice at all?
10. Stanford University made a statement about the case
Stanford released a statement about the case, praising the two bikers and defending the University's actions regarding the situation:
"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."
11. It came out that Stanford has a high rape rate
In 2012, 2013, and 2014, Stanford reported 26 on-campus rapes. That's about one every two weeks, on average.
12. Turner was officially banned from competitive swimming
"Brock Turner is not a member of USA Swimming and, should he apply, he would not be eligible for membership." https://t.co/FOXyTUe52k
— josh (@motoyoshycle) June 10, 2016
Turner, who was a competitive swimmer, just got banned from USA swimming for life. So, you know, that's something.
If you care about this case and want to do something, here are 5 ways to take action:
Alison Maney is a nomadic freelance writer originally from Northern Virginia. An NYU graduate since 2013, she has been spending her time writing for everyone from PR agencies to startup companies to actual real life publications. She wastes her time watching old movies with her dog, Louie.