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.