Father of convicted rapist defends his son's crime as victim's statement goes viral

By Rebecca Sullivan of news.com.au with AP

The father of a 20-year-old man convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at Stanford University last year is defending his son's crime and says he should not go to jail.

Brock Turner is a former Stanford swimming star who in March was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault.

In January 2015, he raped a 22-year-old woman behind a garbage bin after a frat party, before two students cycling past tackled him and pinned him down until police arrived and arrested him.

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Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but on Thursday was sentenced to six months in a county jail and probation. He must also complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.

The case has received widespread media attention in America and the light sentence criticised as too lenient - a textbook example of college rape culture and how the legal system often favours perpetrators over victims.

"The punishment does not fit the crime," said Local District Attorney Jeff Rosen after the sentence was announced Thursday.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: "The punishment does not fit the crime". Photo / AP
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: "The punishment does not fit the crime". Photo / AP

"The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim's ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape."

In an editorial, local newspaper the San Jose Mercury News called the six-month county jail sentence "a slap on the wrist".

"Brock Turner's six-month jail term for sexual assault of an intoxicated, unconscious woman on the Stanford campus last year is a setback for the movement to take campus rape seriously," the newspaper said.

"If Turner's slap on the wrist sentence is a setback, activists can take some comfort that the jurors at the trial in March saw what happened as a very serious crime."

Now Turner's father Dan has issued a statement defending his son, arguing his life will be "deeply altered" by the court's verdict.

"He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile," he wrote.

"His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt 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."

Mr Turner says his son should not be sent to jail.

"The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organisations," he wrote.

"What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violence to anyone, including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015."

Mr Turner then suggested his son could become a role model for young people.

"Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity," he wrote.

"By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way."

The woman Mr Turner assaulted, who has never been identified for privacy reasons, addressed her attacker directly in court on Thursday.

Her extraordinary 7000-word statement explaining how the attack left her emotionally scarred was published online yesterday and has since gone viral.

"You don't know me, but you've been inside me, and that's why we're here today," she said.

- news.com.au

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