In the year that has followed, Turner was tried on the remaining three charges – specifically, assault with intent to commit a felony, assault of an unconscious person, and assault of an intoxicated person. He has stood by his initial statements that the young lady was, at some point, “into it and enjoying herself.”
He was convicted at trial of all three sexual assault charges. The young lady wrote a twelve page long, meandering victim impact statement describing the horrors she experienced in the aftermath of the event – the sexual assault response team exam, the reaction of her friends and family, the embarrassment and humiliation of the media coverage – which she read out loud to Turner during his sentencing hearing.
Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to six months in the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections. His attorney has appealed the conviction.
This is typically where these stories end in our ultra-short-term-memory collective consciousness.
The media’s shocking and vitriolic firestorm about this case, however, has kept the story front and center across nearly every media outlet in this country. Bloggers, journalists, and the average Joe citizen, have called for all manner of violence against Brock Turner, his father, and the Judge. There have been death threats against the Turners, Judge Persky, his family, and even the guy who appointed him to the bench.
And across this discourse, rarely has anyone braved the overwhelming onslaught to suggest these individuals deserve anything less. A quick Google search returned more hits than the National Debt.
I sat down to try to get to the heart of the matter; after all, sexual assault is commonplace, not just in the civilian world, but also in the military.
While the civilian world has grappled with the issue on campus, all branches of the military have similarly attempted to rein in the problem of sexual assaults involving their personnel.
Just recently, the military instituted a ban on drinking in Okinawa – a move unprecedented in any branch and one intended to reduce the number of sexual assaults on Japanese citizens by US Servicemembers. Long before taking such drastic action, the chain of command sought less-restrictive measures to curb sexual violence and drunken behavior. The blanket ban is viewed by many as a desperate knee jerk reaction, destined to be as ineffective as SHARP has been, and aimed only to ward off a torrent of career-limiting negative headlines. Whether this will join a list of other, equally ineffective policies remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, there will be a few more more mandatory annual online training as a result.
And while all of these activities are long overdue, it remained unclear to me what it was about this specific case that was so unique as to create such controversy.
On its face, the victim impact statement released by the (still anonymous by her request) young lady involved was quite emotional. It described in terms that resonated with other people the way this event changed her life. It called for Mr. Turner to apologize and admit wrongdoing.
While moving, and while the statement certainly garnered this author’s sympathy, it differed little from any number of other victim impact statements for similar (and even much serious) crimes over the years.
Another set of issues emerged from the articles and posts, and it’s these that prompted this article.
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