Stanford sex offender Brock Turner loses court appeal on sexual assault conviction

Stanford sex offender Brock Turner loses court appeal on sexual assault conviction

At Stanford University, two graduate students cycled past Kappa Alpha fraternity at 1AM, and stopped. They noticed a horrific assault. Brock Turner, a 19-year-old student and promising swimmer, was forcing himself on an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. "What the f*** are you doing?" one of the graduate students reportedly yelled. "She's unconscious." Turner attempted to run away, but was tackled by one of the students. They restrained him until authorities arrived.

The incident took place in January 2015. When Turner's trial concluded, he was convicted on three counts of felony sexual assault: assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.

Turner faced up to 14 years in prison. However, Judge Aaron Persky gave him an extremely lenient sentence: six months in county jail. Critics condemned the punishment, calling it an outrageous slap on the wrist. The case caught the attention of international media outlets, and the victim's powerful impact statement was widely circulated:

"You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today. In newspapers, my name was ‘unconscious intoxicated woman’, 10 syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am."

Brock Turner's father, Dan Turner, wrote a letter defending his son that caused a firestorm on social media. He expressed sadness that Brock didn't enjoy eating steaks anymore, and received such a harsh sentence for "20 minutes of action." At no point did he acknowledge the feelings of the victim.

Turner served three months in jail, and was let out early for good behavior. However, he was still required to register as a sex offender for life. That is probably why he chose to appeal. His attorneys claimed that there was not enough sufficient evidence to support the conviction. They argued that since Turner didn't take his pants off, he only engaged in "sexual outercourse," not intercourse. Therefore, in their view, he did not intend to commit rape.

The California Court Of Appeals rejected this argument. "While it is true that defendant did not expose himself, he was interrupted," the court said. "Jurors reasonably could have inferred from the evidence described above that, if the graduate students had not stopped defendant, he would have exposed himself and raped [the victim]."

The evidence included statements from paramedics and the hospital staff, who reviewed the victim's skin abrasions and blood alcohol content. The victim is known as Emily Doe, to protect her identity. In addition, the evidence includes Turner's confession to police that he undressed Doe and penetrated her. He claims that she consented to sexual activity. Doe told police she did not consent, and that she has no memory of being with a man that night.

Judge Persky, who served at the Santa Clara County Superior Court, faced a huge backlash for the 2016 sentencing, and was removed from office. He is the first judge in 86 years to be voted out of office in California. Turner's appeal, however, was reviewed by a three-judge panel at the Sixth District Court of in San Jose, California. The judges announced their decision today, and upheld Turner's sexual assault conviction on my all three counts. They stated Doe was too inebriated to give consent.

Brock Turner's mugshot Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office

Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber fought to remove Judge Persky and released a statement on Turner’s appeal. "Brock Turner is a lying, unrepentant sex predator who never showed real remorse for sexual assault,” said Dauber. “Turner never deserved the short misdemeanor sentence he received from Judge Persky -- a sentence that sent the message that his crimes were not really serious. The Appellate Court has now rejected that idea."

Brock Turner is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.