Brock Turner's Rape Case Is In A Textbook Now, Making It The Literal Definition Of Rape
For many people, Brock Turner's rape case exemplifies the many problems with the way the American justice system treats sexual assault survivors. After being convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault following his 2015 arrest, the former Stanford University student was sentenced to just six months in prison last summer. He was released after three months, having served half his sentence, and virtually disappeared from the public eye. One year later, however, Turner is back. Instead of news articles, however, he can be found in a criminal justice textbook, where his mugshot lurks under the heading "rape." Justice may not have been served, but at least schadenfreude is on the menu.
On Thursday, Washington State University student Hannah Shuman posted a photograph of a page from the second edition of Introduction to Criminal Justice by Callie Marie Rennison and Mary Dodge. Turner's face stares up from alongside the entry on rape. The caption reads:
"Brock Turner, a Stanford student who raped and assaulted an unconscious female college student behind a dumpster at a fraternity party, was recently released from jail after serving only three months. Some are shocked at how short this sentence is. Others who are more familiar with the way sexual violence has been handled in the criminal justice system are shocked that he was found guilty and served any time at all. What do you think?"
According to this textbook, at least, Turner is the prime example for rape. After some doubted whether the entry is real, Snopes.com read two copies of the book from different vendors and confirmed that the book and page are genuine.
Shuman's post quickly went viral, attracting more than 92,000 shares on Facebook. Most comments applauded the caption, seeming to agree that public shame was an appropriate fate for Turner. "That's the very least he deserves," wrote one user.
Although the justice system has failed millions of sexual assault victims before, Turner's case drew massive amounts of attention last year for so perfectly illustrating the intersection of white privilege and rape culture. (It didn't hurt that the unnamed survivor's letter to Turner, which she read to him in the courtroom, was so powerful.) Throughout the trial, Turner ducked responsibility and failed to show remorse for his actions, even after he was convicted on all three counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
His defense rested on the idea that, as a white college athlete with no prior criminal record, Turner simply didn't "look" like the public's typical idea of a rapist. His father's controversial statement to the judge focused on his academic and athletic achievements, and in his own letter pleading for leniency, Turner blamed the assault on alcohol and college party culture.
As it turned out, this worked in his favor. Judge Aaron Persky was infamously lenient in his sentencing, stating that a longer time in prison would have a "severe impact" on Turner.
According to RAINN, about two in three sexual assaults are reported to police, and even when they are arrested, sexually violent criminals are far less likely to serve time than other criminals. "Out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 will walk free," reads the organization's website.
Turner may not have walked free initially, but his absurdly lenient sentence illustrates rape culture, which normalizes and excuses sexual assault. It's no wonder that his case is still controversial more than a year later. But even if Turner doesn't recognize himself as a rapist, future law practitioners will. After all, his picture is next to the definition.