In early June, Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in a Santa Clara county jail after being convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault. Turner was accused and convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity house at Stanford University, and could have faced up to 14 years in prison. Ultimately, he will likely only serve three months if he behaves well. Additionally, NBC News reported this week that Turner will be required to attend drug and alcohol counseling, and will be subjected to random drug tests throughout the duration of his probation.
According to NBC News, Judge Aaron Persky — who gave Turner his lenient sentence — did not require the counseling. Turner's probation manager, Jana Taylor, said he would need counseling after Turner lied about his alcohol and drug use in high school. Specifically, NBC reports that Turner denied consuming alcohol in high school, but text messages from his phone were released which showed otherwise, prompting Turner to admit to consuming marijuana, alcohol, and LSD multiple times.
While it's certainly an extra step for Turner to undergo counseling for substance use, there is one important counseling service I'd argue he should also be required to attend: therapy and counseling for sex offenders.
One of the most significant aspects of Turner's case and sentencing was his denial that he had abused his victim. Not only did he do so both before and after his conviction, but both his father and a friend of his denied the claim as well, suggesting that Turner is not a "typical" rapist, but that what happened between him and his victim was a matter of excessive alcohol consumption. Even Persky said that a sentence longer than six months "would have a severe impact on [Turner]" and noted, "I think he will not be a danger to others."
The fact that Turner is being required to seek counseling for his alcohol and drug consumption alone only furthers the harmful narrative that the crime he committed was only related to substance abuse. Turner's father wrote in his letter that his son's life will "never be the one that he dreamed about." His friend's letter suggested that "these are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings." Turner's friends and family have opted to paint a picture of him as a victim, not allowing him to be a perpetrator of sexual violence.
Denying that he sexually harmed another person is not only dangerous to Turner, but also to other women. If he is expected to seek help for his substance consumption, should he not also seek therapy for his sexual offenses? After all, even with such a short sentencing, Turner was still found guilty of sexual abuse, and the best way to prevent similar instances of violence in the future does not necessarily come from a 14-year prison sentence, but from sexual violence prevention counseling.
Until Turner faces the reality of his violent crimes, until he is required to also seek treatment for sexual assault, until all men accused of sexual violence are required to seek counseling and resources to prevent sexual violence, women's lives will continue to not be taken seriously.