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Early in the morning on Friday, convicted rapist Brock Turner was released from jail after serving a short 90-day sentence. That’s 5,020 days shorter than the maximum sentence of 14 years, 2,100 days less than the six years prosecutors recommended, and 93 days shorter than the meager six-month sentence Judge Aaron Persky gave him.
It was difficult to watch Turner take the short walk from the Santa Clara County facility where he was being held to the safety of the car that was waiting to whisk him away to comfort and security. Video of his release was shared widely on the internet and the outrage exploded.
The comments make sense. It can be incredibly unsettling to think about how lightly the state of California took this crime. If you are personally triggered, or feeling upset or afraid, the most important thing now is to not feel despair.
The world is actually fairer than we think.
The public cry for justice is a lot harsher than any time spent in protective custody. In jail, Turner was shielded from the outside world. In the outside world, he is screwed.
Brock Turner might have received a ridiculously short prison sentence, but in terms of his future he's been sentenced to life.
Everywhere he goes, he will be known as the poster boy for rape.
Rape is never a good thing. But there are many reasons why his short sentence is actually better for the fight against rape culture in the long run. It brought much-needed attention to the prevalence of rape culture, predatory behavior and white privilege on college campuses. It also revealed the complete bias of the media who continue to refer to Brock Turner as "Stanford swimmer" rather than "convicted rapist."
Here is a list of things that have happened as a direct result of Brock Turner's actions and the disregard Judge Aaron Persky had for justice.
- Now that he's out of jail, Brock Turner has three years of probation and must register as a sex offender.
- If he returns home to Greene County, Ohio, within five days of his return, he must go to the Greene County Sheriff's Department to be photographed and officially registered as a sex offender. Postcards will be mailed to alert nearby homeowners that a sex offender lives in the area — here or anywhere he lives.
So what? That's not enough, you say? Here's more:
- A new California rape bill inspired by Turner's case passed the state Assembly on Monday with a final vote of 77-1. AB 2888 ensures that anyone in California convicted of sex assault can't be sentenced to probation.
- This woman’s case is receiving the media attention it deserves. On the exact same day Judge Persky gave Brock Turner a lenient sentence, he doled out another outrageously small punishment for the brutal beating and assault of another woman. Now her story is being told.
- Rape statistics in general have been called into question, specifically that they are too low. It’s finally being revealed that underreporting and murky definitions of rape have made sexual assault seem like far less of a problem than it is. Stanford students are just one student body demanding more accurate reporting.
- A public effort to unseat Judge Persky was born. Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber personally knows the victim and headed up efforts to have him removed from the bench.
- An organized effort to end rape culture was born. The FVCK RAPE CULTURE movement held events in cities across the world, collecting thousands of signatures demanding the removal of Judge Persky.
- "Shout Your Rape" storytelling and the #shoutyourrape hashtag started trending as a means for women to publicly talk about sexual assault without fear or shame.
- MoveOn.org started a petition to remove Persky that widely circulated the internet and received nearly a quarter of a million signatures.
- A Bay Area billboard called on the California Commission on Judicial Performance to remove Judge Persky.
- Judge Persky was removed from hearing a sexual assault case after the DA doubted his confidence to make sound decisions.
- In a small but important victory, Judge Persky has removed himself from all criminal cases. He has voluntarily recused himself and will only hear civil cases as of September 6. But at the same time, this gross judge is defending his job and asking for money to support his anti-recall campaign. We can still fight him here.
- The media has been taken to task for labeling Brock Turner as "Stanford Swimmer" rather than "convicted rapist" or even "convicted sex offender" in news reports. Technically, he was convicted of sexual assault and intent to commit rape, but not actual rape. That could be one reason the media is being careful with wording, but simply calling him a "swimmer" is insulting to the victim. It insults all of us. If he sexually assaulted her and penetrated her body without consent, he's a rapist.
- Race and white privilege as a factor in rape case sentencing has been given more attention.
- "My name is Brock Turner. I'm a rapist" posters have been popping up in cities across the U.S.
- Brock Turner is a rapist memes exist.
- The victim read this powerful statement at Brock Turner’s sentencing.
In mixed bag type of results:
- Stanford University banned all hard liquor at undergraduate parties in an effort to reduce binge drinking on campus. This is more harmful than helpful, in my opinion, as it places the blame on alcohol rather than rapists, but it's still a thing that happened as a result of this case.
- To add further insult, Stanford President John L. Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy said "colleges and universities across the country continue to wrestle with alcohol and the high-risk behaviors that can result from its misuse" — as if rape is a high-risk behavior caused by drinking rather than a crime. The result of this misguided thinking is more backlash against rape culture being perpetuated by university Presidents like Hennessy.
- But at least this fucker is stepping down. In 2015 President Hennessy announced that he plans to step down as Stanford University’s 10th president after more than 15 years in 2016. We’re waiting.
- Armed protestors have posted up at Brock Turner's family home. Great, because activism. Scary, because potential violence.
No one deserves to go through what Brock Turner’s victim went through and continues to go through every day. It’s not fair that she had to be the sacrificial lamb, who suffered in order to get people talking about rape culture. She might not find comfort in any of the things listed above. If she doesn't, I don't blame her.
At the very least, this list is symbolic of hope for the future.
It’s hope that the rest of the world will support her and other rape victims where Brock Turner, Judge Persky, and rape culture failed.
Photos: Jena Cumbo (1 & 2); Lily Piper Faye (3)