Home / National News / Six-Month Sex Assault Sentence for Ex–Stanford Swimmer Sparks Outrage


(STANFORD, Calif.) — A former Stanford University swimmer was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, igniting outrage from many who consider the sentence too lenient.

In an emotional letter read in court during sentencing, the victim, who is not being identified, recounted the moment she showered at the hospital after she was assaulted by then-freshman Brock Turner behind a Stanford dumpster in January 2015.

“I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it,” she said. “I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”

Turner, 20, was sentenced Thursday to six months in Santa Clara County Jail by Judge Aaron Persky. A jury found him 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.

“There’s no question it was a lenient sentence,” ABC News’ chief legal analyst Dan Abrams said Monday. “He was facing up to 14 years. Prosecutors asked for six years. He had asked for four months. The judge gave him six months. But let’s keep in mind that that is exactly what the probation department recommended — that six-month sentence.

“Doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t criticize it, but the reality is that this judge accepted the probation department’s recommendation of a six-month sentence,” Abrams said. “And so when people are looking at this case, thinking about this case, getting angry about this case, it’s not just the judge. It’s the probation department as well.”

The victim’s emotional letter and the lenient sentence made waves on social media, with some questioning why he received so little time in jail.

The assault was stopped by two men on bikes who noticed that the victim wasn’t moving. Turner fled, but the witnesses tackled him and held him until police arrived, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office.

“The punishment does not fit the crime,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said after the sentencing. “The predatory offender has failed to take responsibility, failed to show remorse and failed to tell the truth. 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.”

Turner’s attorney declined to comment today to ABC News.

The victim’s statement at sentencing also included responses to parts of Turner’s own statement. Turner had said he wanted to “show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.” The victim responded forcefully in her statement, “You forgot about [my life]. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again … Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

“Her statement was so eloquent,” Abrams said. “And I think that this case is now getting so much attention not just because of the sentence itself, but because of her eloquence, because her comments have been shared so much.”

He added: “I think she’s having an impact. With her words, with her advocacy, with her anger and frustration at this sentence. And this is one of those cases where it resonates beyond the courtroom. Where the impact can be felt in other courtrooms.”

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