Actions of the past several months have begun to revolutionize the culture of sexual assault. On Dec. 6, Time named “the silence breakers” of the #MeToo movement with their coveted title of “Person of the Year.” However, in light of this positivity, something shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, that something is a someone: Brock Turner. Does his name ring a bell? Let’s turn the pages back to 2015.
On Jan. 18, 2015, Turner was accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious 22-year-old woman. Over a year later, Turner, a then-freshman student athlete at Stanford, was convicted on three counts of felony sexual assault. And so Turner fell off his podium.
Turner was an all-American swimmer, but now his name is one that people across the country associate as a perpetrator of sexual assault. According to HuffPost, due to the severity of his charges, he could have faced up to 14 years in prison. Turner is now a registered sex offender, yet he merely received a sentence of six months in prison and will spend three years on probation. After three months in prison, he was released for good behavior. This caused outrage; it’s argued that Turner was left off the hook on more than one occasion. The benefits of white privilege and the apathetic environment surrounding rape culture in the United States were pronounced more than ever during this case.
But for Turner, even that wasn’t enough.
On Dec. 1 — just last week — he requested to appeal his case. As cited by CNN, Turner’s lawyers are claiming that his trial was “fundamentally unfair” because Turner was denied due process. In the 172-page appeal, Turner is hopeful that his conviction will be overturned, Business Insider reported. This is shocking. If anything, his sentence was way too lenient. If a retrial occurs, Turner could, in fact, end up with a longer prison sentence.
Behind the dumpster: it’s those three words that the Turner family’s lawyers are targeting. Turner’s legal advisors are arguing that the prosecutor’s use of this phrase created a prejudiced jury because it insinuated that Turner was attempting to hide his actions. Additionally, the appeal cites that Turner was denied a fair trial since the court excluded those who could attest to the positive aspects Turner’s personality and that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Turner on all three counts. At this point, the possibility of a retrial remains unknown.
However, the Turner family and their set of legal advisors aren’t trying to argue whether indeed the assault occurred. Instead, they are pushing forward an argument that essentially says, “It happened, but it was not anywhere close to a crime,” according to Rolling Stone. Even if the incident took place “in a completely open setting,” it’s still an assault. This statement is like claiming that robbery isn’t a crime because it occurred in the middle of a busy store on a sunny day. Turner’s validation in requesting an appeal after receiving a less-than-harsh sentence demonstrates that sexual assault is still being treated as a contested issue.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”
These words were written by the victim to Turner in the initial case. Her full statement can be read here. No further explanation should be needed as to why this is a crime.
It was 100 percent unsolicited. Therefore, it was an assault. It’s up to the judicial system to decide Turner’s sentence, but it’s our job to stand up for the victim and help end rape culture across our campuses. Sexual assault is a serious issue; the sooner we stand up against it with a united front, the quicker it will fall.