Posted in Opinions, Top Opinions

We can’t afford to be lenient with sex offenders

The Brock Turner case shows deeper problems with the US justice system


I can’t believe I have to write this. There shouldn’t even be a discussion happening around Brock. Fucking. Turner.

If you don’t remember, Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He was sentenced to six months in Santa Clara County Jail and three years of probation, instead of the prosecutor’s recommendation of six years in prison, or the maximum potential sentence of 14 years in prison.

For a lot of people, six months in county jail was a slap in the face of sexual assault survivors everywhere. It’s incredibly debilitating to see your worth as a person be judged as less than the minimum sentence of two years. It is humiliating to have your trauma, your nightmares available for everyone to read or hear; to have your assailant’s father describe the worst event of your life as “20 minutes of action” not worth sacrificing the promising future of a sex offender.

There was also uproar regarding the media’s handling of the story, with reporters describing Turner as a good kid with a great swimming career ahead of him and using a non-mugshot photo in coverage. Now, because of “good behaviour,” Turner has been released after serving only half of his six-month sentence.

Some say Turner has learned his lesson, and that having to register as a sex offender and live with his parents in Ohio is punishment enough. Some say that since his swimming career is ruined, his future is doomed, and that’s the ultimate price to pay.

To those people, I say: what about the future of Emily Doe, the sexual assault survivor? How will she be able, as she says in the letter she read out at Turner’s sentencing, to sleep without a nightlight, or without having nightmares where someone is touching her as she’s unconscious? How will she get over the fear that haunts her every moment?

Brock Turner may have lost his shot at the life of a famous swimmer, but his actions have changed Emily Doe forever: as she wrote, ‘You cannot give me back the life I had before that night.’. And for that, he only had to pace around a county jail cell for three months.

We have all failed Emily Doe. Turner, for sexually assaulting her; the U.S. justice system, for allowing a judge to waive the minimum sentence of two years; and us, for not changing the way rape culture permeates through campuses and proliferates as an acceptable norm.

Consent is crucial and ongoing. If there isn’t a yes, nothing should be happening.

We need to take all the outrage we feel and reform the justice system into an environment where sexual assault and harassment are not treated with a slap on the wrist. We need to make the world a little safer by enforcing harsher consequences for felons like Brock Turner.

The California bill to instate a mandatory minimum prison sentence for the sexual assault of an unconscious or intoxicated person has so far been unanimously approved by California legislature. It’s a step in the right direction. It shouldn’t have to be this hard to teach people that sexual assault is wrong.

  • homeydclown

    The thing is, she walked out with him under her own power. He claims she gave consent. She remembers NOTHING. The jury did not believe him. Wrong? Absolutely. A raping psychopath? Hardly.

    Emily Doe failed herself, first and foremost. Whether or not her life is ruined is in her own hands. No one can give back ‘her life’. What a pathetic phrase.

    His life, on the other hand, is ruined, courtesy of the State of Ohio or every other state in which he may reside.

    In 20 years or so all those foaming at the mouth about this case will have children of their own, half of them male. Surely their own kid would never be in such a situation like this – ha ha. Sow the wind, reap the storm. Should be interesting.

    • I’mma stop you right there

      Hi, don’t know if you’ve actually been following the news reports of this trial and crime, but she was unconscious. It is not possible to give consent while unconscious. Whether she walked out with him or not, if she was so drunk she could not stay conscious then there is no way consent could be given.

      Two men chased him and confirmed that she was unconscious – again, no way for there to be consent.
      Emily Doe did not fail herself, the system and the culture surrounding her did. There should be no circumstance where it is okay to violate someone who cannot say no. There should be no punishment for women for getting overly intoxicated at a party, other than a bad hangover.

      Like, I don’t know how else to explain it. She was unconscious. Unconscious does not mean a free for all, it means leave her alone because she literally cannot tell you if she wants something or not.

      His life is ruined because he violated a young woman without permission. If she doesn’t get to live a life similar to what she had before the crime, why on earth should the perpetrator?

      No, don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical.

      • homeydclown

        Read every single court document that is available on the interwebs. She was unconscious when found. That is not in dispute. She does not remember when she crossed that threshold. It is also not in dispute that she walked out of the party, out of the building with him. Under her own power. She also does not remember doing that. Does that mean she did not walk – on her own two feet? Not remembering is not the same as not having done it. If she can walk while unconscious – that is quite the feat. Like, I do not know how else to explain it.

        He claims she specifically gave consent to be digitally penetrated before losing consciousness – which he was too drunk to notice. Her intoxication resolves her of all responsibility and requirement for sound judgment (like slamming back 4 servings of hard liquor before being driven by mother to a frat party in order to spend some quality time with her sister), but he is supposed to function like a normal person with a very like BAC. Now, the jury did not buy his story.

        It would seem that a cold hearted rapist would have dragged this woman – certainly after the point of losing consciousness – behind the dumpster (they were situated adjacent to the bike path / walkway NEAR the dumpster area) – certainly an easy feat for an olympic type athlete, and then proceed with the rape as per CA Penal code. Why on earth would a guy set on raping an unconscious woman digitally penetrate her within full view of passers – all the while sporting a bulge in his zipped up pants (yes – that is in the police report). That just makes no sense.

        He had his trial. He had the audacity to insist on his constitutional right to a trial in front of his jury. This tremendously added to the victim’s injuries. Emily Doe’s letter leaves no doubt about that.

        He was found guilty. He is a convicted criminal. So are 65 million Americans. Meaning there must be 65 million victims in this country. If these 65 million victims do not have the life they had before they became victims of crime – why on earth should any of these 65 million perpetrators have any kind of life?

        Yes, please answer that, because it is not rhetorical.

  • homeydclown

    Mandatory minimum sentences in a knee jerk reaction to anecdotal high profile cases is an extremely poor approach to criminal justice. I think anyone who knows anything about the subject will concur.

    Ms. Miller – you disqualify yourself right off the bat as a serious journalist with “Brock. Fucking. Turner.”. Maybe you should go back to reviewing bands no one has ever heard of.