If you’ve been tuned into the news at all this week, you can’t help but have heard about the sentencing of 20 year old Brock Turner. Turner was convicted in March of the intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
His sentence? 6 months in jail (3 months with good behavior) with probation. Turner must also register as a sex offender. Prosecution asked for a minimum of 6 years in jail for the January 2015 assault, but Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky felt that Turner’s age and lack of record warranted a much more lenient sentence stating that “prison sentence would have a severe impact on him [Turner].” (You know, as opposed to the severe impact that the assault has had on the victim and her family for life).
Turner’s father pleaded for leniency in a letter to the judge that turned my stomach. In it, Turner’s father stated that his son lost his appetite for the foods he used to love and “…that [jail time] is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
20 minutes of action. 20 MINUTES OF ACTION.
That is how Brock Turner’s father classifies the violation that his son performed on a woman so drunk that she was passed out behind a dumpster when the assault occurred.
There is so much wrong with this whole case that I could write 10 blog posts about it- from the amazing letter the victim penned to the judge (read it- this woman is my freaking hero), to the father’s tone-deaf defense of his son, to the fact that this 20 year old man saw nothing wrong with raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and, finally, the two men that stopped Turner and held him down until the police arrived (they are also my heroes). One of my fellow blog mamas wrote a fantastic piece about how this culture of rape has to stop and how we, as the mother’s raising the next generation, must do our part.
But I’m not going to write about those. Instead, I’m going to write about how, unfortunately, sentences like Brock Turner’s are not unusual- in fact, they are common. This particular case went viral, but for this one case there are hundreds that don’t. Turner’s 6 month sentence may be on the low end, but here are some cases I found here in Central NY:
- In September 2009 a man in CNY was convicted of raping a 19 year old woman using a knife. He’s now out of prison and registered as a sex offender.
- In August 2010, a man was convicted of raping a 15 year old. His sentence? 1 year in county jail.
- In December 2014, a man was convicted of raping a 14 year old. His sentence? No more than 3 years in state prison.
The list goes on and on and on- and that’s only from our tiny corner of the word.
My husband, a law enforcement official, has seen some of the worst of the worst, but what disheartens him the most is how routinely low the sentencing turns out to be. While this case against Turner should enrage you, I urge you to do some research. Check out the statistics, look into local cases and see how crimes similar to this are prosecuted in your area. I found all these cases by scrolling through two days worth of text notifications that I receive from NYS every time a registered sex offender in my county changes his address. You can sign up for those alerts here.
If you don’t like what you see, speak up. Reach out to your local government officials to see what legislation may be on the table addressing this. You can find your local Senator in NY here and your local Congressperson here.
If you read the victim’s letter, you’ll see that she has a lot of support from her parents, sister, boyfriend and therapist. Having a support system is key, so if you ever find yourself needing help, here are some Syracuse-based resources for victims of sexual assault:
- Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Services for SU & SUNY-ESF students
- Vera House: 315-468-3260
- New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906
- NYS Rape Crisis and Sexual Violence Prevention Programs by County