Calif. Gov. Approves Bills Inspired By Brock Turner Sex Assault Case

Monday, October 3, 2016
Calif. Gov. Approves Bills Inspired By Brock Turner Sex Assault Case
An undated photo of Brock Allen Turner from the website of Ohio Attorney General's Office.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law two bills inspired by the case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in jail with probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the college campus, Brown's office announced today.

Turner was found guilty in March of three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. The assault -- digital penetration -- was stopped by two men who noticed that the victim wasn't moving, authorities said. Turner fled, but the witnesses tackled him and held him until police arrived, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office.

Turner was sentenced June 2 to six months in Santa Clara County Jail by Judge Aaron Persky. Turner was facing up to 14 years, and prosecutors asked for six years, but the judge sentenced Turner to six months, as recommended by the probation department.

Turner, now 21, was released from jail after he served three months. Many inmates in California serve only half of their sentences for good behavior. Turner's case and sentence sparked national attention and Persky was criticized for what many critics said was a too-lenient sentence. Turner must complete three years of probation and register as a sex offender.

One bill signed by Brown that was inspired by Turner's case, AB 2888, aims to ensure that anyone in California convicted of sex assault can't be sentenced to probation.

Evan Low, one of the assemblymembers who introduced the bill, said in a statement today: "This sends the strongest possible message that rape is rape and in California, if you do the crime, you're going to do the time."

"Judge Persky's ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion," Low said. "While we can't go back and change what happened, we have made sure it never happens again."

The second bill signed by Brown, AB 701, aims to close a "loophole" in the California state penal code "that the Brock Turner case highlighted" by adding a section to the penal code that says "all forms of non-consensual sexual assault may be considered rape for purposes of the gravity of the offense and the support of survivors," according to a statement from Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, one of the bill's authors.

The previous law stated that "a defendant's use of force triggers a mandatory prison sentence." But "when a victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated, the victim is unable to resist, and the perpetrator does not have to use force," lawmakers said in a previous joint statement about why it was necessary to close the loophole.

"Sexual penetration without consent is rape, Garcia said. "It is never invited, wanted or warranted. Rape is rape, period."

"When we fail to call rape 'rape,'" she said, "we rob survivors and their families of the justice they deserve."

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