A lawyer for the Stanford rapist Brock Turner, who is back in court after serving just months in jail for sexual assault, is arguing that his client only wanted "outercourse" not intercourse with an unconscious woman outside a fraternity party.

Turner's lawyer Eric S Multhaup stated that his client was fully dressed when he was caught engaging in "aggressive thrusting" on the half-naked woman by two Swedish graduate students in 2015.

During the appeal hearing this week, Multhaup claimed there wasn't enough evidence that Turner intended to have intercourse, or rape. He added that Turner only wanted to have fully clothed "outercourse", SF Gate reports.

Brock Turner's lawyer Eric S. Multhaup argued that his client only wanted 'outercourse' not intercourse with an unconscious woman outside a fraternity party. Photo / AP
Brock Turner's lawyer Eric S. Multhaup argued that his client only wanted 'outercourse' not intercourse with an unconscious woman outside a fraternity party. Photo / AP

The justices proceeding over the hearing however, were not convinced.

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"I absolutely don't understand what you are talking about," Justice Franklin D Elia said.

She added that the law "requires the jury verdict to be honoured" and that they were not in a position to say the jury should not have found him guilty.

Justice Adrienne Grover also argued against Multhaup's suggestion that the jury "filled in the blanks" about the crime, saying that: "Intent is rarely proved by direct evidence.

"You can't surgically remove things and look at them separately."

Assistant Attorney General Alisha Carlile gave the harshest response, calling the lawyer's claims a "far-fetched version of events".

Turner, a member of Stanford University's swim team, served only three months in prison after he was convicted of attempted rape over the incident outside a campus fraternity party in 2015, and received a six-month sentence from Judge Aaron Persky.

The lenient sentence received such a backlash that Persky was later recalled by voters.

Persky, who drew national condemnation for his lenient sentencing of Turner, saw his 15-year career end in what Michele Dauber, the Stanford professor who led the campaign, described as a victory for the #MeToo movement.

Dauber, who knew Turner's victim, said: "The broader message of this victory is that violence against women is now a voting issue.

"This is a historical moment in time. Women are standing up for their rights and there is a national reckoning.'

Persky declined to comment and said repeatedly that he couldn't discuss the case because Turner has appealed his conviction.

But in a lengthy interview with The Associated Press last month, he said he didn't regret the decision and was taken aback by the reaction.

"I expected some negative reaction," Persky said. But not this."

Persky said he was adopting the probation department's recommendation to spare Turner prison for several reasons, including Turner's age, clean criminal record and the fact that both Turner and the victim were intoxicated.

"The problem with this recall is it will pressure judges to follow the rule of public opinion as opposed to the rule of law."

The California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled that he handled the case legally. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen didn't appeal the sentence.

Judge Aaron Persky saw his 15-year career on the bench ended as California voted to recall him following outrage over his sentencing of Brock Turner. Photo / AP
Judge Aaron Persky saw his 15-year career on the bench ended as California voted to recall him following outrage over his sentencing of Brock Turner. Photo / AP

The case sparked a national debate over the criminal justice system's treatment of sexual assault victims and racial inequities in court.

He could have been jailed for up to 14 years, the maximum sentence in California, but instead was given just six months imprisonment and three years probation. Turner served just three of those months before being released.

He has been registered as a sex offender and has to report to a probation officer for three years, during which he is not allowed to drink or take drugs.

During the trial he admitted to being drunk at the time of the incident and said he'd dabbled with LSD.

Persky and holds undergraduate degrees from Stanford and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Many complained Persky showed too much deference to Turner, a white Stanford scholarship athlete whose parents could afford a private attorney.

Activists pointed to numerous other cases in which minorities faced much harsher sentences for less egregious crimes.

The victim, who came to be known as Emily Doe, testified she was passed out behind a trash can when two men saw Turner on top of her.

The two men, Swedish graduate students, yelled at Turner to stop and then chased him and held him down for police when tried to flee.

Persky said he took the victim's experience into account when sentencing Turner.

But the judge said the publicity of Turner's arrest and trial and the young man's loss of a swimming scholarship also factored into his sentence.

Turner is also required to register for life as a sex offender. Persky cited numerous letters of support friends, former teachers and employers wrote on behalf of Turner.

Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexual assault despite prosecutors recommending he be given six years. Photo / AP
Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexual assault despite prosecutors recommending he be given six years. Photo / AP

"I think you have to take the whole picture in terms of what impact imprisonment has on a specific individual's life," Persky said during the sentencing hearing.

The rape charges were dropped during his trial but he was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault in March 2016.

Turner's father fueled public fury when, in a letter to a judge begging him to spare his son jail, he described it as "a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action".

"His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," Dan A Turner wrote.

Turner became the face of the college campus sex scandal which engulfed the US in 2016 and which continues to be fought over and challenged by activists across the country.