Brock Turner, a former student and swimmer at Stanford University, was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault and sentenced to just six months behind bars last week for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The judge’s ruling has sparked outrage across the nation, moving many to sign a petition on Change.org to remove Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky from the bench.
Here, Us Weekly Video breaks down everything we know:
The Assault, January 18, 2015
Two graduate students found Turner raping the woman, who was half-naked, outside a fraternity house around 1 a.m. They chased after Turner and held him down until police arrived. According to the victim, she had decided to accompany her younger sister to a party, though she had initially planned to stay home. After the assault, she woke up at a hospital and learned the details of her assault from the press.
Turner Pleads Not Guilty, February 2, 2015
Turner, a then freshman, was arraigned at the Santa Clara County courthouse in Palo Alto, California. According to ABC, he pleaded not guilty to five felony charges, including attempted rape, rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman and sexual penetration of an unconscious woman. He alleged that the two were hooking up at the party and he only fondled her. He was released on $150,000 bail.
The Hearing, October 6, 2015
According to The Stanford Daily, Turner attended his preliminary hearing with his defense attorney, Michael Armstrong. Turner again pleaded not guilty, and two charges were dropped: rape of an intoxicated person and rape of an unconscious person. It was decided that he would stand trial for the three other felony counts.
Turner Is Found Guilty, March 30, 2016
Turner was found guilty of raping the woman. His sentencing was scheduled for June 2, and he faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars. (Prosecutors were arguing for six years.) According to the Associated Press, Turner is appealing his decision.
Turner Is Sentenced to Six Months in Jail, June 2, 2016
On June 2, Judge Persky sentenced Turner to just six months of jail and three years of probation for his actions. Turner must also register as a sex offender. Persky noted that he came to the decision because of Turner’s clean criminal record and that a harsher punishment would have left a “severe impact” on him. “I think he will not be a danger to others,” Judge Persky said, via CNN.
One day earlier, Stanford University released a statement defending the way it handled the situation. “Once Stanford learned the identity of the young woman involved, the university reached out confidentially to offer her support and to tell her the steps we were taking. In less than two weeks after the incident, Stanford had conducted an investigation and banned Turner from setting foot on campus — as a student or otherwise. This is the harshest sanction that a university can impose on a student,” the statement said. “This was a horrible incident, and we understand the anger and deep emotion it has generated. There is still much work to be done, not just here, but everywhere, to create a culture that does not tolerate sexual violence in any form and a judicial system that deals appropriately with sexual assault cases.”
Rape Victim’s Letter to Turner Goes Viral, June 3, 2016
Buzzfeed obtained a letter that the woman read aloud in court to Turner. The powerful and detailed essay described how she felt after the assault, the emotional toll it took to tell her family and how the ordeal “has done irreversible damage” to her.
“I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real,” she wrote. “I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most.”
The woman took the time to read portions of Turner’s testimony and responded to each of them, too. “Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life. A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, ‘I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives.’ You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she wrote. “… to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you.”
Dan Turner’s Letter Surfaces, June 5, 2016
Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and friend of the victim, then released the letter Turner’s father, Dan, wrote to the judge ahead of Brock’s sentencing, according to the AP. The message has since been slammed as “tone deaf” by critics. “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” the elder Turner wrote. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Additionally, the father claimed that his son’s life was “deeply altered” by the incident. “Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him,” he added. “Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.”
Brock’s Childhood Friend Speaks Out, June 6, 2016
New York magazine’s The Cut also obtained a letter from Brock Turner’s childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen, who wrote to Judge Persky to defend the former undergraduate. She blamed the court case on political correctness and said that Brock was always such a good kid.
“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next 10+ years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists,” Rasmussen wrote.
She continued: “This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgment.”
Brock’s Mug Shot Is Released, June 6, 2016
After more than 14 months, the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department finally released Brock’s mug shot that was taken when he turned himself in to begin his sentence on June 3. According to The Cut, the Stanford Department of Public Safety stated that the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department was in charge of when the mug shot would be released, while Santa Clara officials said it was up to the arresting agency. Later the same day, the Stanford Department of Public Safety finally released Brock’s original mug shot, taken the day he was arrested.
Petition Launches to Recall Judge Aaron Persky, June 6, 2016
Dauber launched a Change.org petition to recall Judge Persky because of the light sentence he handed down to Brock. “Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency,” the page stated. “He also failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors.” As of Tuesday, June 7, the petition has already received more than 366,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, supporters continue to rally behind the rape victim. As previously reported, viewers praised CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield on Monday when she read the woman’s entire letter to Turner during Legal View.
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing and recovering, and more.
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