A transcript of Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing of convicted rapist Brock Turner shows his rationale in delivering what many considered a lenient punishment. The Stanford student’s lawyer had claimed during the hearing that in his client’s “drunken state, he remembered consent.” “I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events,” Persky, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, said, according to CBS News. “The jury, obviously, found it not to be the sequence of events.”
Turner spoke at the hearing, where he expressed remorse. “It’s unbearable to think that my actions that night have caused these good people so much sorrow and pain,” he said. “Nobody deserves a single second of what I have caused them to go through.”
Persky said that determining whether Turner was genuine in his regret for his actions proved to be “one of the most conflicted and difficult issues in the case,” but ultimately believed the defendant’s contrition.
“And so you have Mr. Turner expressing remorse, which I think, subjectively, is genuine, and [the victim is] not seeing that as a genuine expression of remorse because he never says, ‘I did this. I knew how drunk you were. I knew how out of it you were, and I did it anyway,'” the judge said. “And that – I don’t think that bridge will, probably, ever be crossed.”
When it came time to explain the sentence, and why he opted for jail and probation over a prison sentence, he said that while the victim’s life had been “poisoned” by the assault, a prison sentence for Turner would not be “an antidote.” CBS News reports that the judge then outlined a number of 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.
Persky said he considered 39 letters he received vouching for Turner’s character and took them into account. One, from a childhood friend of Turner’s who claimed she never thought Turner would be in a situation like the case, “rang true.” “It sort of corroborates the evidence of his character up until the night of this incident, which has been positive,” the judge said.
The maximum sentence for Turner’s charges was 14 years in prison. Prosecutors, whom CBS reported countered many of Persky’s claims in sentencing, sought six years. Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, three years of probation and lifetime registration on the sex offender list. Recent reports suggest that Turner could be released from jail in as little as three months.
Prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci said, according to The Washington Post, that the sentencing would “reverberate far beyond this courtroom.”
Since the ruling has gone viral, potential jurors have refused to serve on Persky’s trials, USA Swimming has banned Turner, who swam for Stanford, for life and Persky has been removed from presiding over another sexual assault trial. Vice President Joe Biden wrote an open letter to Turner’s victim saying, the “nation is not satisfied” with the sentence.