Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Witness for all the Victims – Rape at Stanford
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 8, 2016
If ever there was a time to reach into the screen – either the computer where you are reading this column, or the television where you get most of your news, to grab hold of a trio of smarmy, maladjusted cretins and pound their idiotic faces into hash, this is certainly that time.
There is something afoul within the justice system of the United States – so disgraceful and repugnant that all Americans must take notice and act – if not on their own behalf, then on behalf of the decent law abiding people who may one day become victims or have their lives affected by their association with victims.
Two people’s lives have been inalterably affected by the actions of one – one person made a choice, the other a victim of that choice. Victim and perpetrator will be inexorably linked in perpetuity. In January 2015 Brock Allen Turner, then a freshman attending Stanford University, sexually assaulted an unconscious, half-naked 23 year old woman. The crime was discovered and the woman rescued by two bicycling graduate students. Both victim and attacker had been drinking – and yes, that matters.
But for now, what matters most is that on Thursday, June 2, the judge, Stanford alumnus Aaron Persky, sentenced Turner, now 20, to a mere six months in county jail followed by probation instead of a maximum of 14 years in state prison for being found guilty of three felonious counts of sexual assault. The jury was unanimous in their January 2016 verdict regarding Turner’s sexual assault and bodily violation of an unconscious woman. Even 14 years is far too minimal a sentence for the heinousness of the crime in question.
I am not going to waste time condemning the defense team for zealously defending their client – that is what they get paid handsomely for in the first place. They played it smart by going after the victim, who admitted her memory was faulty for overindulging in alcohol.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge, the not so honorable Aaron Persky, opined in his pathetic ruling that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer with Olympic aspirations. “Severe impact?” Isn’t that the purpose of punishment? Shouldn’t the reparations with which Turner is saddled have a severe impact? This isn’t swim camp after all, this is prison for violating an innocent woman. Making matters worse, is that Turner showed no remorse for his crime, and instead blamed it on the alcohol. If alcohol is to be a collaborator in Turner’s heinous act, then should not alcohol be rendered illegal?
And what about the severe impact Turner’s crime has on the victim? Not had, as in past tense, has, as she must live with the emotional and physical scars for the rest of her days. The victim’s impact statement, while lengthy, roughly 7,200 words, is absolutely worth reading. Hers is an anguish that will undoubtedly outlast the six month gift of a sentence handed to Turner. (https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra?utm_term=.mqNnAkrvD#.rt8OgQzK3)
Adding insult to injury, Turner’s father, Dan Turner, is exhibit “A” why his son demonstrated no remorse for his crime. Dan Turner said of his son’s life, “it will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.”
“Action?” What a piece of work this father is. No doubt he is up for father of the year. Turner sounds like a four year old who doesn’t understand right from wrong, and is calling his son’s sexually assaulting an unconscious woman “20 minutes of action.” Should James Holmes’ shooting and murder barrage in an Aurora, CO movie theater in 2012 be called five minutes of action and summarily dismissed? Is the amount of time it took to commit the crime actually relevant when determining the sentence?
And what about the dreams of the victim? They are shattered – even if temporarily, when they should not have been at all. She is now living a life of fear, trepidation, loathing, sleepless nights, and with a lack of trust – none of which is by her own choosing. Those 20 minutes manifestly changed her life.
Dan Turner also reported that his precious, privileged, progeny hasn’t been able to eat and enjoy his rib eye steaks the way he used to. No doubt the victim is not enjoying her meals or her life as she once did, but hey, Brock Turner’s ability to enjoy his steaks is what matters. Both Dan and Brock Turner are a pair of obsequious weasels.
One might suggest were it not for the alcohol there might not be a victim or a perpetrator. That might be true. Perhaps a conscious potential victim could have fought off her attacker. Perhaps the attacker might not have sought to violate an unconscious woman had he not been under the influence. But how inebriated does one need be to sexually assault an unconscious woman and still maintain the faculties necessary to perform in such a manner? Yes, Turner was drunk. But the victim was unconscious and unable to grant consent to anything. If Turner was able to violate her person, he was capable of making a decision – he chose wrongly and for that, should spend more time in jail than a mere six months. Turner must also register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life. Perhaps one day when women refuse his requests for dates because he is a vicious sex offender will Turner understand what the words personal responsibility mean, but from the excuses offered for his actions, don’t hold your breath.
As for the dishonorable Judge Persky, he was up for reelection on Tuesday, June 7, but did not appear on the ballot for his six year term as he faced no opposition. Perhaps smugness led him to make such a disastrous ruling. Recall efforts are in effect. An on-line petition at www.change.org has garnered more than 600,000 signatures – mine will be one of them – demanding Persky’s removal from the bench. A formal printed petition requiring roughly 70,000 signatures would place Persky’s name on the November ballot for recall.
Persky’s decision is an ignominy, a mockery of the judicial system, and an insult to every victim of rape and sexual assault. Clearly the blindfold was stripped off of Lady Justice. Persky is a capricious worm who should be removed from the bench and disbarred. Hold Aaron Persky accountable for not holding Brock Allen Turner accountable.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.