Widgets Magazine
Judge in Turner case faces criticism after citing lack of criminal record, remorse in sentencing decision
Brock Turner's case has sparked outrage after he was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years' probation on June 2 (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily).

Judge in Turner case faces criticism after citing lack of criminal record, remorse in sentencing decision

Criticism of Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85 erupted nationwide following the sentencing of Brock Turner to six months in jail and three years of probation on June 2. A protest is currently being planned for the Commencement tradition Wacky Walk, and multiple petitions to recall Persky and as well as a petition calling for more University support for sexual assault victims are circulating on social media.

At Turner’s sentencing hearing on June 2, Persky began by acknowledging that the decision was difficult. He said he was partly relying on Rule 4.413(c)(2)(c), which has to do with probation eligibility. The rule states that there is limited culpability if “the defendant is youthful or aged, and has no significant record of prior criminal offenses.”

After revealing his decision, Persky detailed both aggravating and mitigating factors for the sentencing decision.

Aggravating factors, or those which favor extending the sentence, cited by the judge included the following: deep physical and psychological harm inflicted upon the victim and vulnerability of the victim at the time of the crime.

Mitigating factors, or those which favor reducing the sentence, were cited as follows: lowered culpability due to both parties’ intoxication (though Persky insisted this factor was weighted only slightly); the lack of a prior criminal record; character letters attesting to a period of good behavior prior to and after the crime; Turner’s likely compliance with the sentence; adverse “collateral” effects outside of the conviction such as high media attention; and what Persky identified as remorse from Turner.

He called the last determination “one of the most conflicted and difficult in the case today.” However, he said he ultimately judged Turner’s remorse to be sincere.

“The trial is a search for the truth. It’s an imperfect process,” he said, adding later, “I’m not sure his incomplete acquiescence to the verdict is grounds [to affect his sentence].”

Ultimately, Persky said that he did not believe an extensive jail sentence would best suit Turner’s rehabilitation as a sex offender.

Many student groups have expressed outrage at this decision. A group called Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) created a petition yesterday calling for the University to apologize to the victim, provide supportive services to her and other sexual assault victims, commit educational resources toward sexual assault and administer a new campus climate survey.

Matthew Baiza ’18, co-founder ASAP, said he was moved to action after reading the letter the victim read in court.

“After reading that, we realized the survivor didn’t get justice at all,” he said. “It sends the wrong message to survivors, students and the nation as a whole.”

In a statement released today, spokesperson Lisa Lapin said the University has faced significant misinformation regarding its role in the case.

“[The University] did everything within its power to assure that justice was served in this case, including an immediate police investigation and referral to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for a successful prosecution,” the statement reads.

Another petition to recall and remove Persky reached over 140,000 signatures at the time of publication. The petition also accuses Persky of bias in favor of Turner, a “fellow alumni and athlete of Stanford.”

An email also circulated today requesting students to join in a protest during Wacky Walk, the traditional Stanford procession of graduating students which kicks off Commencement.


Contact Victor Xu at vxu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Victor Xu

Victor Xu '17 is an editor and graphics designer. An economics major, he hails from Carmel, IN. He is interested in international development and Kanye West. To contact Victor, email him at vxu ‘at’ stanford.edu.
  • AF

    It would seem rape isn’t taken very seriously at Stanford.

  • Ms Gribbly

    Ha, you’d be surprised how much Olympic hopeful swimmers can and do drink. I was a world ranked swimmer myself four time All American. College swimmers abuse alcohol plenty. You know, Phelps is an alcoholic.

  • Bill Robinson

    For some reason, my posts in response to your comment don’t seem to be showing up. Perhaps they are in a different area of this site. Among the responses was a link to a far more comprehensive assessment of Stanford’s and other institutions’ efforts to deal with this issue. I would submit you are the one who is clueless. You obviously haven’t made more than a cursory effort to find out what Stanford is doing in this area, if that. I don’t know what your college affiliation is, but if you attempted to use what you have presented to your professors and peers, you would not do very well in their assessment.

    You offered no data, no specific references, and no rationale as to how to evaluate whatever material you present. So, show me something meaningful, the answer some questions such as what does this data mean? Why? and So what?

    I have no affiliation with Stanford, but I am generally aware of what many colleges are doing, such as adding additional administrative(usually high level), personnel, and working with faculty, students, alums, and Board members on the issue. If you made any effort, I think you would find the same thing at Stanford.

    I’ll see if I can find my previous responses to you, including the link I mentioned.

  • Bill Robinson
  • Bill Robinson

    This site doesn’t seem to like links. It is an NPR article entitled “Stanford Tops Federal List With 5 Sexual Violence Investigations.”

  • Bill Robinson

    This site is dropping multiple posts. Maybe it is filling up. Please check the NPR article entitled “Stanford Tops Federal List With 5 Sexual Violence Investigations.”

  • Bill Robinson

    One more attempt to summarize my previous posts. I doubt you made a serious effort to understand what Stanford and other colleges are doing to get a handle on this problem. They are adding senior staff positions and having in-depth discussions among administration, faculty, students, alums, and Board members. I would be surprised if Stanford isn’t doing the same. The link above mentions some of their efforts.

  • Bill Robinson

    By the way I have no affiliation with Stanford of any kind.

  • agnosic1

    Meant to reply earlier. Could it be that the Brock Turner case is an archetype?

    Running the numbers, it’s not hard to argue 1) that we’re in a rape epidemic, 2) that females 18-24 are most at risk, and 3) that non-student females 18-24 (like the victim) are actually highest at risk:

    “Table 1: Average rate of violent victimization, by type of crime, (2008–2012)”

    Total violent crime (TVC) = 23.1

    subtotal of TVC–Simple assault = [15.6]
    subtotal of TVC–Serious violent crime (SVC) = [7.5]

    subtotal of SVC—-Rape/sexual assault = {1.2}
    subtotal of SVC—–Robbery = {2.5}
    subtotal of SVC—–Aggravated assault = {3.8}

    “Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013”

    A. Rape and sexual assault victimization = ((7.6))
    (females ages 18 to 24, non-students)

    B. Rape and sexual assault victimization = ((6.1))
    (females ages 18 to 24, students)

    The rate of Serious Violent Crime in the general population (7.5 per 1000) is approached/approximated by the rate of “Rape and sexual assault victimization–females ages 18 to 24” (6.1 to 7.6, students vs non-students).

    “Table 2: Rate of violent victimization among females ages 18 to 24, by post-secondary enrollment status, 1995–2013” indicates that female students 18-24 suffer Violent crime at a rate of 46.3/1000 (2-fold over national average), while female non-students 18-24 suffer Violent crime at a rate of 73.1/1000 (3.2-fold over national average).


  • Strykr32

    Thanks…Kappa Alpha house, bottom of pic; Jerry House, top of pic; path and basketball courts.
    Alleged dumpster(s), between Kappa Alpha and Jerry House; look like fairly young redwoods next to the dumpster so the pine tree must be further away from the dumpster.
    Have to assume it took place on the other side of the fence since it did not take place on concrete. Light green grassy area at upper left is Lake Lagunitas, an artificial dry lake. If the fence was there on January 17 2015, then the choice of location on a soft bed of pine needles with a starlit sky visible through the pine branches does not seem such an implausible location as describing it taking place near a dumpster under a pine tree.

  • BooBooLicious10

    Idiot apologist and instead of trying to address my points, you name call like a petulant toddler and then run off… those define you perfectly.

    When tourists waded in at the precipice of Nevada Falls in Yosemite and were swept over and died, you are the type of person who starts whining that they died because the railings weren’t adequate. When someone kills with a gun, you want to blame the gun manufacturer. When your child doesn’t do well in school (despite them not doing their homework), you want to blame the teacher.

    People like you can’t deal with the fact that INDIVIDUALS need to take accountability for their OWN actions.

    Simple question for you: If this woman had been able to adequately control her alcohol use to a limit which would have allowed her to legally drive, would this “rape” have happened? Yes or no?

    At the end of the day, it’s her va-jay-jay and therefore her responsibility first and foremost.

  • BooBooLicious10

    You read my mind! I was literally wondering tonight what the scene looked like and I was considering driving by sometime next week… but now I don’t have to.

    It’s amazing that Stanford boasts an endowment in excess of $20 Billion, yet doesn’t have security cameras all around the greek houses.

    One other item that’s interesting is that much of Stanford’s campus is very dark at night. There are also a ton of trees and open spaces. If he really wanted to rape this girl, there were a TON of locations for him to do this which would have been far superior than the dumpster location above. In the first picture, a huge swath of trees can be seen in short walking distance. If he really had some nefarious plan to have her pass out and rape her, surely he would have taken her to one of those places instead. Hooking up with her by the dumpster seems more like a consensual type of location. But just speculation on my part as obviously I wasn’t there.

  • Serjo

    Oh I don’t know, maybe 99% of the comment section?

  • qaz zaq

    You are correct in claiming that he is definitely a Liberal. I meant “phony” in the sense that Liberals are insincere, two faced, liars. Sorry for the confusion.

  • southerninsanity

    It’s been reported by MANY media outlets that Stanford’s official response on Monday said they’ve done all they can do. The facts are the facts. I expect you either work there or are an alumnus, with your blatantly biased defense of them.

  • southerninsanity

    You need to keep up, “rick131.” You couldn’t be any more incorrect.

  • southerninsanity

    “Strykr32,” stop being a rape apologist and attempting to blame the victim.

  • southerninsanity

    Yeah, that pine straw ended up in her vagina, along with abrasions, by some mystical, mysterious method. Idiots.

  • southerninsanity

    You keep defending this injustice, Bill. Fortunately, rape apologists like you are in the minority on this one.

  • southerninsanity

    We know he ignored any and all statements from the district attorney and the victim. His sentencing comments focused solely on his outrageous support and defense of the convicted sex offender.

  • sherwinwill

    Harvard had more rapes than Stanford last year… look it up.

  • sherwinwill

    Rapes by School for 2014

    Brown: 43

    U-Conn.: 43

    Dartmouth College: 42

    Wesleyan University: 37

    University of Virginia: 35

    Harvard: 33

    University of North Carolina at Charlotte: 32

    Rutgers-New Brunswick: 32

    University of Vermont: 27

    Stanford: 26

  • Naomi Amuzie

    So is Stanford going to expell Turner or no?

  • Bill Robinson

    Thanks for the links. I spent at least a half hour reading them and could spend quite a bit more time on them (and will). The key questions are what does the data mean? Why? So what?

    I’m not sure why one of your conclusions was that we are having a rape epidemic, especially among students. According to Appendix Table 1, the reported incidence of rape and sexual assault has pretty consistently gone down, from 9.2 in 1997 to 4.4 in 2013. That’s a reduction of more than 50%. I would have thought that with the attention given to the issue the rate of reporting would have gone up for a while at least.

    I found the different surveys to be interesting. Each seems to have its own strengths and weaknesses. They all have inherent weaknesses given the sensitivity of the subject and the fact that many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported.

    Not surprisingly, many of the incidents are related to alcohol and drug use, and the large majority occur with close friends or acquaintances. And the age group of 18-24 has the highest incidence. The culture of hooking up certainly increases the opportunity for miscommunication, especially given the use alcohol and drugs. It’s not just the use of alcohol but the problem of heavy, or binge, drinking like in this case to the point of oblivion or severely compromised judgment.

    I don’t like the current methodology of defining rape and sexual assault. I think the data shows a need for showing more clearly the incidence of violence, intent, and the factor of miscommunication (particularly with the frequency of alcohol and drug use). As I have noted frequently before, I don’t like the use of the word rape with its highly charged emotional impact which produces a degree of vilification, where the guy isn’t guilty of sexual assault; he’s a predator. I would like a clearer indication of where the factor of miscommunication comes in play. I also have concern that somehow the man bears such a high burden of responsibility in comparison to the woman. It seems obvious that both parties play a role. Maybe it has to be that the man is the ultimate line of defense in averting the sexual assault, but it seems that is a factor in determining the penalty. I doubt that many European countries have the same approach or severity in penalties where alcohol, drugs, and the possibility of miscommunication plays a factor.

    I recognize that there’s a case to be made that it’s simpler to say “Hey, what part of yes or, more importantly, no don’t you understand?” That’s an advantage in determining ultimate responsibility. Perhaps the only place you can deal with the distinction is in the penalty phase, which is what the furor is about – did the judge make the right decision.

  • partTimeNavyWife

    “The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard-earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first-time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”

    That’s what 99% of the people are saying. The max he could get is 14 yrs. 6 months is a joke. He’s not going to learn his lesson. He’ll be back in the news just like someone else already posted.

  • ewoo

    You don’t have to imagine it. Cory Batey, a standout black athlete at another school who committed essentially the same crime in similar circumstances, was sentenced this past April to a minimum of 15-25 years. I guess, according to Serjo’s comment, that that is “how the law works” in this country.

  • AtlasWinks

    Yes, she called her boyfriend and she sounded so incoherent he was frightened and worried for her. She was slurring words, & making nonsensical babble. She left at least one other voice message that proved again she was OBVIOUSLY extremely drunk. So, Brock Turner testified he spoke with her and asked her several times if it was ok to kiss her, take her back to his place, insert his fingers inside her. He lied about knowing she was extremely drunk, if he indeed had any conversation with her. He testified she enjoyed it to the point of orgasm, even though he did it for a tiny bit of time. This sounds less like the truth and more like some inexperienced jerk lie-bragging to his friends about what he did.

    People did see them dancing together at one point. People saw him trying to dance suggestively with several women and or kissing them and being pushed away. He admitted he was going to the party because he was horny and wanted to hook up with someone. He was rejected by multiple women, multiple times. That seems like a perfect storm of sexual frustration building to me.

    No one saw them walking away together hand-in-hand as he claimed occurred . No one saw what happened until our heroic bicyclist came on the scene. We do know that earlier she had walked out there with her sister and friend to urinate. We do know that she talked with him on the back deck.

    When I read everything as far as the events we do know happened I wondered to myself if she walked back out there to pee and he followed her, then at some point seized his moment to take advantage of her.

  • Beth Cope

    That sounds like someone who is having problems performing due to intoxication but still wants to sexually assault someone. You are assuming that rape is merely about sexual gratification, when it is really about power and domination over a victim.

  • Beth Cope

    Brock also lied about his partying ways. He should also be prosecuted for perjury. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/06/09/stanford-rapist-scheduled-release-september/85641596/

  • Beth Cope

    Exactly, and 23 is her current age and not the age she was at the time of the rape.