Campus rape is an extremely prevalent issue in today’s culture. According to Stanford University’s 2015 Campus Climate Survey, 4. 7 % of women reported that they had been a victim of sexual assault and 32. 9% reported experiencing sexual misconduct. Of those attacks, 80% of the perpetrators were Stanford students and 85% were men. Many of these offenses go unreported for fear of the victim not being believed or even being blamed. Because of this, rape is not taken as seriously as it should be. Recently, a case at Stanford University brought international attention to the matter.
People v. Turner produced an insane amount of dialogue between many people of different backgrounds. The uproar mainly had to do with rapist, Brock Turner’s jail sentence of merely six months. Turner’s jail sentence was ridiculously short due to his race, gender, and socio-economic status. On January 18, 2015, two Swedish international graduate students, Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt, at Stanford university were biking past Kappa Alpha fraternity at about 1:00 am. They saw what looked like a man on top of an unconscious woman sexually assaulting her.
Jonsson and Arndt called out to ask the man what he was doing and he ran off, they pursued him and tackled him to the ground. The man was 19-year-old Brock Turner. The woman, who has not been identified for personal security reasons and dubbed Emily Doe, did not respond to being shaken and finally came to at around 4:15 in the hospital and did not remember anything that had happened. Doe had pine needles in her hair and dried blood on her hands and elbows, she also maintained not having any memory of being alone with anyone, let alone Turner, or consenting to any sexual activity.
In Doe’s medical file, it was noted that she had sustained multiple abrasions, erythema, penetrating trauma. Erythema is redness of the skin due to increased blood flow to superficial capillaries and can be caused by excessive massage. It was also noted that Doe had sustained significant trauma, including penetrating trauma. Turner gave a statement saying that the two had met at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house and that they had drank beer together.
They allegedly walked away from the house holding hands, and Turner took off Doe’s clothes while she rubbed his back, he then said he needed to vomit and got up to walk away and that was when Jonsson and Arndt appeared and apprehended Turner. On January 28, 2015, Brock Turner was indicted on five felony charges including rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
The two rape charges were eventually dropped under California state law after it was determined from a DNA test that there was no genetic evidence of genital-togenital contact. On March 30, 2016, Turner was found guilty of assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. He was subsequently sentenced to six months in jail, obligated to register as a sex offender and attend a sex offender rehabilitation program.
Brock Turner was officially sentenced on June 2, 2016 to six months in Santa Clara County Jail by Judge Aaron Persky, despite a sentence of six years recommended by prosecutors. Turner was eventually released from Santa Clara County Jail on September 2, 2016 after only three months. First and foremost, race issues are extremely prevalent in the United States’ court systems. Brock Turner’s race mort definitely played a part in his sentencing. In rather similar case, Cory Batey, an African-American student at Vanderbilt University was charged with fifteen years in prison for raping an unconscious woman.
Batey and Turner’s cases are both textbook examples of campus rape, yet Batey received a sentence thirty times longer. In another case, twenty year old West Chester University student, Kyle Cho was sentenced to six years in prison and five years of probation for raping an intoxicated, unconscious woman. Cho’s situation is nearly parallel to Turner’s, yet the Turner, who is white, has sentence twelve times shorter than Cho, who is Asian-American. Of course, there are external factors here.
Batey’s assault was more violent than Turner’s, they all took place in different parts of the country, and were presided by different judges from different walks of life. However, this is no excuse to allow blatant racism affect America’s court system or the protection and safety of women on college campuses. Next, victim blaming is a detrimental piece of rape culture, and Brock Turner’s six month sentence hits the nail on the head. Judge Aaron Persky’s sentence showed no remorse for what the victim endured or the physical and emotional damage that was done to her and has been done to millions of other people.
Sentences like Turner’s only continue to trivialize sexual assault. In her statement, the victim described the pointed questions thrown at her by investigators that attempted to make some sense of what Turner did. They asked her questions about what she had for dinner, who made it, how much she normally drinks, what she was wearing, how sexually active she is, if she’d ever cheated on her boyfriend, or why she went to the party. After they had determined how little she remembered, Brock Turner was allowed to fill in his own fabricated story to right his wrongs and create his own fairytale in which he was not a rapist.
Not only was Turner’s sentence unfitting to his crime, it was a flagrant disrespect to the victim and symbolized male privilege to rape victims everywhere. Meanwhile, one’s socio-economic status often plays a role in jail sentences. This is seen in many high-profile cases where an upper class defendant is given a light sentence or given a verdict of not guilty all together. For instance, the case of Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson’s suspected murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Simpson was acquitted despite a multitude of evidence and no clear alibi. The outcome of the trial was an obvious demonstration of classism in the legal system; Simpson was previously a running back for the NFL teams the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers and also had a career as an actor in multiple films and television series. In 1997, Simpson’s net worth was estimated to be around $24 million. While not nearly as wealthy, Brock Turner also comes from a fairly well-off family.
His father, Dan, works an Air Force civilian job, making at least $50,000 annually. His mother, Carleen, is a registered surgical nurse, a job which makes from $60,000-$85,000 a year. The Turner family is from suburb in Ohio called Oakwood where everybody is pretty wealthy and lives idyllic lives shrouded in privilege. In a Washington Post article, the author speaks about the child-rearing fads in Oakwood.
Every parent caters to the every whim of their children. They throw parties and provide alcohol and these kids are never told “no. Raising children with a toxic attitude of entitlement and complacency is a major contributing factor to cases like Turner’s. However, some believe Emily Doe is at fault. Claims have been made that she should have been more careful and not had as much to drink. If Doe had been responsible with her alcohol use, she could have prevented the whole incident. Many also say that Brock Turner is technically not a rapist. An article from The Independent, cites the differences between the FBI’s definition of rape to California State laws.
The FBI’s defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object… without the consent of the victim. ” California’s definition is similar, however, “object penetration” is punished in a much less severe way than penile penetration. So, according to California State law, Brock Turner is not a rapist. These claims are unsound and frankly, offensive to the victim. Doe’s alcohol consumption or habits should not act as a defense for Turner’s actions. Campus rape has been an underlying issue in our country for decades.
Brock Turner’s case is not a unique one, it has happened before and will most likely happen again. When it comes down to it, the ones with the money and power are in charge, regardless of how fair they are. Brock Turner comes from a life of privilege, even though he did something truly awful, he was able to move on fairly easily. Victim blaming is a detrimental piece in this puzzle. Doe was questioned over and over again about her habits, not just the night’s events. Brock Turner’s jail sentence was ridiculously short due to his race, gender, and socio-economic status.