The ex-Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, was released from prison on Friday, 2 September, after having completed half of his six-month sentence for sexual assault.
The recently turned 21-year-old hurriedly left the Santa Clara County jail in approximately less than 30 seconds wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt with a paper bag containing his belongings and a sports jacket under his arm. He did not respond to any of the questions reporters asked nor did he stop to comment. He was swiftly ushered out of the Main Jail in San Jose into a white SUV.
Events that lead to Turner’s trial
On 17 January 2015, a young woman in California decided to accompany her younger sister to a fraternity party about ten minutes from where she lived. This was the same party where Brock Turner was also present. At a point in the evening, the young woman had blacked out and had come to in a hospital.
She was disorientated and confused as to what had happened to her or why she was there. The staff at the hospital shed light on the reason for having admitted her and for performing various intrusive tests. She was still in denial of her assault until the issue made news and she read the article about how she was spotted by two Swedish graduate students with an aroused Turner gyrating her naked body from the waist down, with her dress pulled over her shoulders. A scared Turner ran but was caught and confronted by the students.
In March this year, a jury found Turner guilty of three felonies: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. Deputy District Attorney, Alaleh Kianerci said Turner should get a six-year sentence in state prison for his actions, but Judge Aaron Persky took sympathy upon the young athlete for reasons such as: his lack of criminal record, his show of “sincere remorse” and the use of alcohol that impaired his judgement, all of which lead to his lenient sentence.
Judge Persky felt that incarceration would severely and negatively impact Turner due to his young age, and therefore sentenced him to six months incarceration.
Public outraged at justice system’s treatment of sexual assault cases
A few hours after Brock Turner was released, numerous people gathered outside the Santa Clara County jail to protest Judge Aaron Persky’s lenient judgment of a severe case. Protesters called for the Judge to step down. Persky responded by voluntarily removing himself from criminal cases to handle civil suits instead.
In a statement the sexual assault survivor had made, which went viral on social media, she spoke of the pain and distress caused by the incident and the trial leading to Turner’s sentencing. She confessed to being violated once by Turner and again by his prosecutor who tried to frame her in a manner that would make her accounts seem invalid.
Many across the country and the world are outraged at how the justice systems fail to handle sensitive cases that involve sexual assault against women, with the level of seriousness and precision required to efficiently address the problematic entitled mentality society holds against women and their bodies. It is truly disappointing and infuriating for a sexual offender to walk free from prison after having served only three months for reasons the public, including the survivor, understand to be linked to his social class, and thus privilege.
What will become of Turner?
The athlete will return to his home in Dayton, Ohio with his parents where is expected to register as a sexual offender within five days and will continue to do so every 90 days. Greene County Sheriff, Gene Fischer, told CNN that Brock Turner’s picture, conviction information, and address would be available for public knowledge on Ohio’s sex offender registry. Any person living within 381 meters of Turner’s household will be informed with a postcard, and he is forbidden to live within about 305 meters from any space where children are present, such as playgrounds or schools.
The athlete is required to complete three years of probation which include a sex offender management program for at least a year or up to three. According to CNN, programs of this nature tend to entail group counseling sessions led by psychologists conducting cognitive behavioral therapy. The idea is to treat antisocial behavior that leads to distorted perceptions of sex, relationships, and empathy towards others.
In addition to the program, Turner is expected to notify law enforcement of any changes in address, job, academic schedule, car, contact number, volunteer work and Internet access information for emails, websites, and social networks.