The former Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, who was found guilty of sexual assault in California, has appealed his conviction after serving just three months of his only six-month sentence. “The appeal comes as a surprise because political leaders, local residents, and social media users had criticized Turner’s sentence as too lenient, rather than too harsh.”1 (In response to the Turner case, California lawmakers passed legislation to broaden the state’s legal definition of rape and mandate prison if the victim was unconscious.2)
Back in 2015 when Turner was just 19, two fellow students at Northern California University saw him outside of a fraternity house on top of an unconscious woman. He was arrested, convicted of sexual assault and given a sentence of 6 months in jail by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge, Aaron Persky (who is currently facing a recall for the sentence he handed down).
In paper’s filed on Friday in California, Turner’s lawyer, Eric Multhaup, said that a prosecutor in the trial incorrectly told jurors the sexual assault occurred behind a trash bin, implying that Turner tried to hide his activities with the woman. The appeal also said that Persky “erred by not instructing jurors to consider charges less serious than sexual assault and by not allowing testimony from character witnesses.”3
Turner’s lawyers are asking that his conviction be overturned and for a new trial. If he is convicted again, he could face a longer prison sentence (he is currently a registered sex offender in his home state of Ohio).
Not only did the judge’s 2015 sentence “stoke intense debate” about rape on college campuses but in today’s climate, his petition is likely to fall on deaf ears; the time of looking the other way in regards to sexual assault is, thankfully, finally over.