Brock Turner, the 20-year-old former Stanford swimmer accused of sexual assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman, testified on Wednesday that his sexual activity with the alleged victim was consensual.
Turner’s version of events emphasized the woman’s conscious and verbal assent at each step of his interaction with her — even as prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci pressed Turner on discrepancies between his testimony in court and the story he gave to Stanford Department of Public Safety detective Mike Kim over a year ago, shortly after being arrested on Jan. 18.
Much of Turner’s trial to date has centered on the alleged victim’s mental and physical state while she was with Turner, specifically on whether she was able to consent to sexual activity. Two Stanford graduate students testified last week that they confronted Turner in the early hours of Jan. 18 after observing him “thrusting” atop an unmoving body outside Kappa Alpha (KA) fraternity house.
The alleged victim, whom The Daily will refer to as Jane Doe, said she has no memory of meeting Turner at a party at KA the night of the incident. When police arrived at approximately 1 a.m., they found Doe unresponsive and half-naked on the ground, with her dress hiked up and her underwear beside her.
But in Turner’s account, Doe was awake and willing throughout the time he danced with her, kissed her, “dry-humped” her and penetrated her with his right hand finger.
It was “absolutely not” his intention to rape Doe at any point of the night, Turner told the jury.
Over the past week, the defense has been building an argument for Doe’s active participation on Jan. 18. On Tuesday Kim Fromme, a psychology professor at the University of Texas in Austin, testified that a person can still make conscious decisions during an alcohol-induced “blackout” period, because only their memory storage is affected. However, the prosecution accused Fromme of bias, pointing to the $8,000 retainer she will receive for testifying.
Turner’s narrative continued the defense’s case that the interaction with Doe was consensual. Turner said he arrived at the KA party at around 11 p.m., feeling “pretty buzzed” from drinking five cans of beer beforehand. He said he did not interact with Doe until approximately 12:30 a.m., when he approached her and told her he liked her dancing.
Doe laughed and said thanks, he said.
After asking Doe’s permission, Turner said, he “grinded” with her — a close-contact form of dancing that he said is common at campus parties. He then asked Doe if she wanted to go back with him to his dorm room, and she said yes.
According to Turner, he and Doe left through the back patio entrance of KA and ended up on the ground next to a trash can after Doe slipped and pulled Turner down with her. They laughed about the fall and kissed side by side. Then, he moved on top of Doe.
Turner said that he removed Doe’s underwear and digitally penetrated her only after getting her verbal consent. And he claimed that when they finally began “dry-humping,” Doe was responsive, “grinding back at [him] with her hips.”
Turner said he never unbuckled or removed his pants. Forensic analysis yielded no evidence of semen on Doe’s body or clothing.
In cross-examination, Kianerci attacked Turner’s narrative with rapid-fire questions, pushing Turner to explain why a number of the details he gave the jury on Wednesday did not come up in his previous conversation with detective Kim. Kim questioned Turner five to six hours after the defendant arrived at the Stanford police station on Jan. 18.
Turner said then of his sexual activity with Doe, “[Doe] seemed like she enjoyed it.” But as Kianerci pointed out on Wednesday, Turner never told Kim that he asked Doe’s permission before digitally penetrating her, and told Kim “I don’t remember” when asked how he and Doe ended up on the ground.
“So now you remember, all these months later?” Kianerci asked.
“It’s the only thing I’ve thought about,” Turner responded. He attributed the relative lack of detail in his interview with Kim to panic and confusion.
“My mind was going so fast,” he said repeatedly throughout the cross-examination. “I just couldn’t think about anything logically.”
Turner said he did not have any idea of Doe’s being unconscious until Kim suggested it at the police station. Turner told Kim at the time, “I think [Doe] was responsive”—a seemingly ambiguous statement, Kianerci pointed out.
“Why was there any doubt in your mind?” she asked Turner.
Kianerci also expressed skepticism about Turner’s explanations for why he eventually got up off of Doe and his account of what happened afterward.
The graduate students who witnessed Turner atop Doe said the defendant stood up and ran after they shouted at and accosted him. But Turner stated on Wednesday that “dry humping” with Doe, combined with the alcohol he drank, gave him an upset stomach; he got up after telling Doe he thought was going to vomit.
“Oh, okay,” Doe said, according to Turner. Turner said that was the last time he spoke with Doe or saw her face.
Not wanting to throw up on Doe, he said, he walked a short way down a slope and then “realized there was a guy standing right next to me.” Turner denied hearing the man say anything to him before that.
The man, whom Turner later identified as Peter Jonsson, said “What the fuck, man, you’re sick” — “something like that,” Turner said.
According to Turner, Jonsson then tried to put him in arm-lock, which caused Turner to run away “scared” that Jonsson would hurt him. Jonsson chased after Turner and tackled him to the ground, allegedly breaking Turner’s wrist in the process.
In cross-examination, Kianerci pointed out that Turner never actually vomited. She also pushed him to affirm that he had “lied” when he twice denied running away from Jonsson while talking to Kim. Kianerci wondered aloud why Turner never explained to the detective that he ran away because he was afraid the two men would hurt him.
In spite of Kianerci’s probing, Turner maintained throughout Wednesday’s court session that nothing had seemed amiss in his interactions with Doe. At one point, Kianerci referenced a slurred voice message that Doe left her boyfriend not long before the alleged assault. Doe’s blood alcohol content at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 18 has been estimated at three times the legal driving limit.
“You would agree with me that in that voicemail she sounded super intoxicated, right?” Kianerci asked Turner.
“No more than anybody else that I’ve been with,” Turner said.
His trial is expected to finish early next week. Turner faces three felony charges: sexual penetration of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and intent to rape an unconscious or intoxicated person. If convicted on all counts, Turner could receive up to 10 years in prison.
Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’ stanford.edu.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Turner could receive up to 22 years in prison. The Daily regrets this error.