Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner is appealing his conviction of sexual assault.
His 172-page appeal demands a new trial and seeks to overturn the convictions requiring that Turner register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious woman outside a Kappa Alpha party in 2015.
Originally found guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault, Turner’s six-month sentence sparked public outrage and an ongoing campaign to recall the judge. Turner’s appeal brief contends, among other arguments, that Turner was denied a fair trial by a “failure to present constitutionally sufficient evidence as to any of the three counts of conviction.”
“What we are saying [is] that what happened is not a crime,” John Tompkins, Turner’s legal adviser, told NBC. “It happened, but it was not anywhere close to a crime.”
Two Stanford graduate students testified in Turner’s trial last March that they saw him on top of an unmoving woman and that, when confronted, he tried to flee. Turner was ultimately convicted of 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’s appeal brief argues that the prosecutor biased the jury by saying throughout the trial that the assault took place “behind a dumpster” rather than in the open space between dumpsters and a basketball court outside Kappa Alpha.
The prosecutor’s characterization “implied an intent on the appellant’s part to shield and sequester his activities,” the brief states, also citing negative associations with dumpsters such as filth and criminal activity.
The appeal criticizes the trial process for omitting consideration of a lighter offense for Turner and denying his legal team a chance to present evidence about his good character to the jury. The brief also states that Judge Aaron Persky ’84 A.M. ’85, now facing the recall effort, at one point didn’t respond satisfactorily to a “critical jury question.”
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen told the Mercury News Friday that “Brock Turner received a fair trial and was justly convicted.”
“His conviction will be upheld,” Rosen said. “Nothing can ever roll back Emily Doe’s legacy of raising the world’s awareness about sexual assault.”
Law professor Michele Dauber, a friend of Turner’s victim who is leading the recall movement against Persky, weighed in as well, calling the argument that Turner was deprived of justice “ridiculous.”
“The problem with this case wasn’t that Judge Persky was unfair to Brock Turner, it was that Judge Persky was unfair to the victim when he sentenced Turner to only a few months in county jail,” she said in a statement.