Newly released documents from the Santa Clara County Superior Court and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office suggest that Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, acted in an “aggressive” way toward another woman a week before the assault and lied to officials when claiming inexperience with drugs and drinking prior to college.
The documents’ release follows intense media scrutiny of a case that has shot to national and even international attention this past week, after many condemned Turner’s six-month county jail sentence as too lenient. Turner was convicted of three felony counts in March a little over a year after two witnesses discovered him on top of an unmoving woman outside Kappa Alpha fraternity. He is expected to serve three months in jail with good behavior, according to the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.
On Thursday, the Attorney’s Office released the prosecution’s sentencing memo, the report of Turner’s probation officer and an eight-page statement from Turner giving his account of the night of the assault. On Friday, the Superior Court released 470 pages relating to the case, including full reports from police and medics, evidence taken from Turner’s cell phone, letters in support of Turner and the defense’s sentencing memo, among many other items. All documents have been redacted to protect the names of the victim and witnesses.
Much of the documents’ information has already circulated online in excerpts. But the release provides a more detailed look at the case — for example, the rationale behind Turner’s probation officer’s recommendation — and goes further in-depth about the defendant’s personal history.
In particular, the prosecution’s memo reveals that, a week before the Jan. 17 incident, another woman had complained about Turner’s behavior at a different party – also at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house.
“This assault occurred a week after [Turner] was similarly aggressive with another female,” the memo states. “That female came forward and described the Defendant as making her feel uncomfortable.”
The Court’s release also includes evidence that seems to contradict Turner’s statement to a probation official that he has never used illicit drugs and only began drinking in college. The prosecution points to a search of Turner’s phone that revealed photos of the defendant smoking a bong as well as text messages dating back to 2014 in which Turner references drinking alcohol and doing “dabs,” a concentrated form of marijuana. These items contrast with Turner’s own description of his past in a letter to Judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85.
“Coming from a small town in Ohio, I had never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol,” Turner wrote. “Living more than 2,000 miles from home, I looked to the guys on my swim team as family and tried to replicate their values in how they approached college life.”
The latest documents also give further insight into the probation recommendation — ultimately followed by the judge — that suggested a “moderate county jail sentence” for Turner, which generally means four to six months. The report was not previously available to the media, although earlier articles drew on references to the document in the prosecution, defense and victim’s statements.
The report found no aggravating factors in Turner’s actions, because the victim’s vulnerability was a key element of the convicted crime and thus could not be an aggravating circumstance. The probation officer described one mitigating circumstance, Turner’s lack of prior convictions, and factored that into the final recommendation along with Turner’s youth and what the officer interpreted as Turner’s repentance for his actions.
“During the presentence interview, the defendant demonstrated a comprehension that the victim, in her state, was unable to make an informed decision and in that moment, he had a moral responsibility to act in her best interest, which he failed to do,” the officer wrote.
However, the victim has questioned the sincerity of Turner’s remorse, blasting Turner’s testimony and his desire to devote his life to educating young people about the dangers of “campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that” as evidence that Turner has ducked personal responsibility for her assault.
The probation officer also notes that Turner shows “Low-Moderate Risk” for potential to re-commit sexual offenses and that, regardless of his jail sentence, he has already been punished in other ways: with Internet infamy, lifetime sex-offender registration and loss of a “hard earned swimming scholarship.”
Finally, the officer factors in the victim’s own statement that she does not want Turner to “rot in jail.” The prosecution, meanwhile, has argued that officer misinterpreted the victim’s empathy for Turner as approval for a light sentence.
Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’ stanford.edu.