Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer found guilty of three felony sexual assault charges whose lenient sentence enraged many, will be released from jail after three months on Friday, September 2nd, according to CNN.
Turner originally received a six-month sentence — though prosecutors requested a six-year jail term — for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The New York Post reports that he is being let out after serving half his time due to “good behavior.” The maximum sentence for Turner’s charges was 14 years in prison.
Disapproval over Turner’s lenient sentence fueled an effort to recall the judge responsible for the sentencing, Aaron Persky. A juror blasted Persky’s decision in the Turner case in an open letter, and subsequent jurors refused to serve under him. In June, the judge was taken off a different sexual assault case after prosecutors in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office invoked a procedure dubbed 170.6. “We lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement.
In explaining Turner’s sentence, Persky said that while the victim’s life had been “poisoned” by the assault, a prison sentence for Turner would not be “an antidote.” The judge outlined numerous reasons why the sentence was not more severe: Turner had no prior convictions, he was not carrying a weapon, he didn’t “demonstrate criminal sophistication,” he wouldn’t be a threat to others, he’s young and, in Persky’s opinion, he would comply with probationary terms. A long stint in prison would leave a “severe impact” on the convicted rapist, Persky said, and Turner would suffer “collateral consequences” from the conviction, publicity and requirement to register as a sex offender.
Earlier this month, Persky recused himself from making a decision in a case involving child pornography. “While on vacation … my family and I were exposed to publicity surrounding this case,” Persky noted in a written ruling obtained by CNN. “This publicity has resulted in a personal family situation such that ‘a person aware of the facts might reasonably entertain a doubt that the judge would be able to be impartial.'”
On Monday, the California state legislature passed a bill in the hopes of preventing judges from making similarly lenient rulings in future rape cases, Reuters reports. “Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that,” Democratic Assemblyman Bill Dodd, who co-authored the bill, said in a statement. “This bill is about more than sentencing,” he added. “It’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes.”
The new bill would ensure that those convicted would face a minimum sentence of three years in jail. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has not indicated whether he will sign it into law.