By Cake Staff:
Brock Allen Turner, the perpetrator in the Stanford Rape Case, an athlete and former student of the varsity, was released from prison on Friday, after serving only a three month sentence for his crime.
Turner had assaulted an unconscious woman in January 2015, and a judge had ruled for a meagre 6 month sentence for him – leading to widespread outrage and controversy, especially after the survivor’s heartbreaking personal account had gone viral. And now, Turner has been let off 3 months early because of reported “good behaviour.”
The fact that Turner’s “good behaviour” is what let the judges think that he could be freed means that the law still gives more credence to the perpetrator over the extreme trauma and violence the survivor has gone through. It’s scary how a rapist can still go scot-free in our society while the survivor’s moral character is continuously brought into question.
Even while on trial, Turner thought blaming ‘Party Culture’ on campuses was a legitimate defense to his actions. Much has been said about how rape-culture pardons even criminal behaviour in men, but the handling and outcome of this case points to the racial politics that is also at play. While people like Turner, who are white and privileged get away with committing horrific crimes, American law enforcement continues to prosecute people from the black community (and other minorities) for crimes they don’t even commit. Turner’s release and lenient sentence highlights the lack of responsibility taken by the legal system in not just protecting the rights of assault survivors, but also in meting out punishment to those who come from a position of privilege.
It has led to a new series of protests, holding the justice system accountable for being so lax and biased, and a new bill on campus sexual assault has been introduced in the state of California. Currently, the law fails survivors who are unconscious or intoxicated at the time of assault. The new bill, sponsored by Democrat member Bill Dodd, recognizes how this allows perpetrators to escape on a technicality. A formal decision on the bill is expected at the end of the September.
Surveys by RAINN found that 11.2% of college-going students in the US have faced some form of physical sexual assault, and that “sexual violence is more prevalent at college, compared to other crimes.” Turner’s sentence could have finally signalled a more effective way in dealing with campus sexual assault, but unfortunately, with his release, the message now being sent is this: your privilege will bail you out of any crime, so go for it.