By Victor Xu
In a sentencing hearing on Thursday morning, Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail followed by three years of formal probation. He must also register as a sex offender and participate in a sex offender rehabilitation program.
Santa Clara County Superior Judge Aaron Persky presided over the hearing and delivered the sentence. Persky acknowledged that it was a difficult decision and that the sentencing terms reflect several factors, including Turner’s intoxication, character letters submitted to the court, adverse collateral effects stemming from high media coverage and the defendant’s apparent remorse. The sentence was disputed by prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci, who argued that the involvement of alcohol and character letters in particular should not have mitigating effects on the sentencing decision.
Turner was arrested Jan. 18, 2015, after two graduate students found him on top of an unconscious woman outside Kappa Alpha fraternity at approximately 1 a.m. Turner subsequently withdrew from Stanford. On March 30, a jury found Turner guilty on three felony counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. Turner faced a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
The sentencing decision was given after a recess at around noon, following comments from the victim, the prosecutor, Turner’s father, Turner and Turner’s attorney.
Prior to hearing the terms, the victim, a 23-year old Palo Alto resident who did not attend Stanford, spoke to the courtroom. Citing the deeply damaging impact the assault has had on her and Turner’s lack of remorse, she called for a prison sentence of no less than one year. She described how she found herself on a gurney early on the morning of Jan. 18, 2015, facing injuries, rushed treatments and photo documentation of her wounds. In the aftermath of the assault, she said she has struggled with extreme depression. She eventually had to quit her job, and she said it took eight months for her to begin talking about the assault.
“I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real,” she said, later adding in a direct address to Turner, “You bought me a ticket to a planet that I lived in by myself.”
The victim said she could not forgive Turner because he still had not acknowledged that he had sexually assaulted her. She argued that he continues to shirk responsibility and blame the alcohol.
“Somehow he still doesn’t get it,” she said. “Somehow he still sounds confused.”
After his father Dan Turner read a letter attesting to his character, Brock Turner read a statement to the courtroom in which he expressed remorse to the victim and her family.
“I can never forgive myself,” he said. He said he hoped that his work in a high school program warning students about the dangers of alcohol would help him atone for his actions.
Before revealing his decision, Persky read excerpts from a letter submitted by the victim.
“Nobody wins. We have all been devastated. We have all been trying to find meaning in all of the suffering.”
The victim’s full letter can be found here.
Contact Victor Xu at vxu ‘at’ stanford.edu.