Gov. Jerry Brown Gives California's Brock Turner-Inspired Sex Assault Bill The Green Light & It's About Time
On Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown approved the Brock Turner-inspired sex assault bill that would mandate prison sentences for anybody convicted of assaulting an unconscious person. The move comes one month after Turner was released from jail after serving three months of his initial six-month sentence for felony sexual assault. Turner had assaulted a woman at a party while she was unconscious; two Swedish grad students came across the scene, stopped Turner, and insisted the former Stanford student be arrested.
The lenient sentence handed down by Judge Aaron Persky to Turner was motivated, in part, by the suggestion that Turner would find a longer sentence or greater repercussions emotionally taxing. Persky also took into account statements by Turner's friends and family, who insisted that "20 minutes" should not define the rest of Turner's life. (Spoiler: In some cases, it absolutely should.) Turner has also registered as a sex offender.
Turner has lain low since his release from jail, and at the victim's official request, is no longer living in California. Throughout the early days of his case, Turner was described in local media outlets as a former "Stanford swimmer," as opposed to an accused rapist, and the case gained national attention when the rape survivor allowed BuzzFeed to publish her statement in regard to Turner in full. Her statement read in part:
I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, 10 syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt.
Brown was initially uncomfortable with the bill, given that California is aiming to cut down on mandatory prison sentences, the Los Angeles Times reports. However, in a statement, he said: "I believe [the bill] brings a measure of parity to sentencing for criminal acts that are substantially similar."
Meanwhile, Judge Persky has recused himself from presiding over criminal trials going forward. Persky faced a nationwide backlash after he sentenced Turner, and he was the subject of a popular petition seeking to disbar him.