A Response to People v. Turner

Brock Turner. His name insights my skin to crawl and my blood to boil. With his release from jail on September 2nd, after serving only three months of an already minuscule six-month sentence, we are all reminded of the unjust legal system in the United States, especially when it involves sex crimes. However, what troubles me even more than Turner’s laughably short jail sentence is the way these events are being framed for public consumption.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-47-31-pm(Source: BoobsRadley, permission from Athena Diligenti)

Why is it that anytime Turner is mentioned in the media, he is referred to as “former Stanford swim team member” and not “convicted sexual assailant?” Why is the narrative of this sexual assault controlled by how Turner’s life will be adversely affected by this conviction rather than focusing on the trauma inflicted on the victim, on the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses, or on University sexual assault policies that work against victims?

Take a look at the statement made by Dan Turner, Brock’s father and try not to throw your computer across the room out of anger:


(Source: Twitter)

I agree, Mr. Turner. How horrible for son that his attempt to rape a woman behind a dumpster backfired when he was caught. Yes, his life has been “deeply affected” by these crimes that he committed and he will “never be his happy-go-lucky self” that he once was, before he was found assaulting an unconscious, half-naked woman at 1 a.m.. And oh yes, how horrible for this promising young Stanford swimmer that he must now register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life. After all, he has never committed a crime before this, so why should he be punished so severely with a whopping three months in prison? How unfortunate for him. Really, truly unfair. He is the person to which we must direct our sympathy. He is the real victim here, not the woman he raped.*

Instances such as the People v. Turner case expose major underlying problems in the way cases of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape are handled in the American court system as well as the media cycle. We need to focus more on providing safe pathways for victims to report crimes without fear of persecution. We need to ensure that assailants get sentences that fit their crimes. We need to make sure that there is never another Brock Turner.

If you are unfamiliar with the specifics of the case, People v. Turner, or you just want a refresher, I encourage you to click here for a comprehensive timeline of the events that unfolded this year.

*This entire passage is to be read with a tone of sarcasm and contempt.

(Featured Image Source: Flickr)

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