Although it’s been years since the Stanford rape case first made headlines, the story isn’t over yet. In court on Tuesday, Brock Turner’s lawyer argued his client wanted “outercourse” and not intercourse with his victim. This all comes after Turner was sentenced to six months in prison back in 2016 for sexually assaulting a drunk and unconscious woman behind a dumpster near a fraternity party.
After Turner — a white Stanford student and former school swim team member — was sentenced, he only served three months of his time. And as CNN reported, people weren’t happy about it. They didn’t think the punishment was severe enough for the crime — and they thought Turner’s socioeconomic status had to do with that so-called lenience. And so, local voters cast their ballots to recall the judge who’d sentenced Turner: Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. As Vox reported, this is a rare move, and hasn’t been done successfully in the U.S. since 1977.
Now back in court after all that, The San Jose Mercury News reported that Turner’s lawyer, Eric S. Multhaup, told three justices that the disgraced Stanford student just wanted “outercourse,” which he described as having sexual contact while fully clothed. Multhaup pointed out that Turner had all of his clothes on when he was caught in the midst of “aggressive thrusting” on top his victim, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. At the time of the incident, two Swedish students were cycling by and stopped Turner, chased him, and pinned him down until authorities came.
"I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about,” one of the appellate court justices, Franklin D. Elia, told the lawyer.
Since his initial sentencing, Turner has moved to Ohio, and he wasn’t present at Tuesday’s hearing, The Mercury News reported. But his lawyer went to bat for him, trying to turn over Turner’s charge of attempted rape — a charge that means his name will be on the sex offender’s registry for life. Multhaup argued Tuesday that there wasn’t enough evidence for the jury to find him guilty and that Turner never intended to rape the woman, The Chronicle reported.
Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who led the campaign to vote to recall the judge who sentenced Turner, had a few issues with that argument, though. In a phone interview with The Mercury News, she said she didn’t buy it because that argument was never made at Turner’s initially trial.
“Now, he has a brand new story,” Dauber told The Mercury News. “It’s inappropriate to ask the appeals court to substitute its judgment for the jury.”
During Turner’s initial sentencing hearing, his victim, a 23-year-old woman who’s chosen to stay anonymous, read a letter about what it took to survive the assault. BuzzFeed News published the letter in full.
My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice.
A panel of justices has until late October to issue a final ruling on this case, which sparked conversations about rape on and off college campuses, even before the #MeToo movement came about in 2017.