The internet is aflame with the sentence issued to Brock Turner by Santa Clara, California Judge Aaron Persky.
Here are the facts: Turner was a freshman on the Stanford swim team. He came upon the victim, who was impaired by alcohol and unconscious, and raped her over a garbage dumpster. Two students walked by, Turner tried to run. They tackled him and held him until the police arrived.
The sentence: six months prison, 3 years probation, lifetime sex-offender status.
Rape is never ever justifiable. Let's start the discussion with that.
Now let's ponder this: should rape be a crime different from robbery or theft or fraud, or aggravated battery or attempted murder in which the sentence is severe with no possibility of remorse and rehabilitation?
Victim advocates will correctly say that our last statement written by someone who was never raped, and who defends people charged with crimes, and doesn't fully understand the lifetime physical and emotional problems victims suffer. True. But this is a discussion that is important.
The letters: Two letters were read at sentencing. One by Turner's father, one by the victim.
The Father's letter:
First of all, let me say that Brock is absolutely devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th 2015...He would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have that night to do over again. In many one-on-one conversations with Brock since that day, I can tell you that he is truly sorry for what occurred that night and for all the pain and suffering that it has caused for all those involved and impacted by that night. He has expressed true remorse for his actions on that night.”
His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve...That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.
Dan Turner said he and his son were “totally in awe” of Stanford’s campus, and noted with pride the school’s 4 percent acceptance rate.
“He excelled in school that quarter earning the top GPA for all freshmen on the swim team...What we didn’t realize was the extent to which Brock was struggling being so far from home. … When Brock was home during the Christmas break, he broke down and told us how much he was struggling to fit in socially.
“In hindsight, it’s clear that Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into the culture of alcohol consumption and partying,”
“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,”
Now here is the victim's letter, powerful and simply devastating, starting off with "You don't know me, but you've been inside of me." Read the whole letter. It is as powerful recitation of being victimized that we have ever read.
“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression...You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite steak for him. … Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist"
Rumpole says: This letter is tone deaf. But it is a father's letter, written from the heart, about the self-destruction of his son's life.
We're going to conclude with the victim's letter, but here is what is happening now. The judge issued the sentence after a trial on the issue of consent. The sentence was roundly condemned by the prosecutor and in social media. There is a drive to recall the judge or have someone run against him in his re-election bid. The father's letter has been criticized .
Our question is much simpler, and yet harder: You are the judge- what is the sentence?
UPDATE: A reader wrote a great comment. What do think the sentence would have been if the defendant had been African-American or Hispanic? What if the defendant wasn't a college student but a janitor at the college? Same age, but not a student. Excellent questions.