Former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who is accused of raping an unconscious woman on campus in January, pleaded not guilty in court Monday morning to five felony charges of sexual assault.
Turner and his father had flown from Ohio, where they live, for the Feb. 2 arraignment. Judge Aaron Persky denied a request from Turner's attorney, Mike Armstrong of Palo Alto firm Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, that Turner not be required to attend all court appearances.
Persky also filed a one-year protective order preventing Turner from contacting the woman he allegedly raped or coming within 100 yards of her.
Turner, 19, was arrested early in the morning of Jan. 18 after two Stanford graduate students saw him allegedly assaulting the woman outside a fraternity house, chased him when he ran away and detained him until police arrived. Turner denied the allegations in a police report released last week, telling police that his "intentions were not to try to rape a girl without her consent."
The woman, who is not a Stanford student, remained unconscious and unresponsive until she awoke at Valley Medical Center in San Jose several hours later.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney charged Turner last week with five felony counts: rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
If convicted, Turner faces 10 years in prison. He has since withdrawn from the university and is not allowed to re-enroll or return to campus.
Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci, who works with the county's sexual-assault unit, described the two graduate students as "heroes" who brought to light an often unreported and unprosecuted crime.
"When we hear the word 'rape,' we often think physical force," Kianerci told reporters after Turner's arraignment outside the Palo Alto Courthouse. "Rape is more often the thievery of the body and dignity of a woman, taken by offenders who believe no one will know and no one is looking. These types of sexual assaults happen on campuses, at parties all across the country. Sadly, they often go unreported or worse, we're not able to proceed on these cases.
"Luckily for the victim in this case, there were two good Samaritans who were at the right place at the right time, and more importantly, they did the right thing and that's the message that needs to be sent to the community," Kianerci said. "Don't just stand by if you see something inappropriate. If you see something, say something,"
Kianerci said she objected to Armstrong's request for Turner to only have to attend substantive court appearances under a penal code section that gives sexual-assault cases priority in the criminal justice system.
"It is in the people's interest to have this case move in an expeditious fashion and in order to do that, we need the defendant to be present at every court appearance," she said.
Kianerci said the victim is recovering and asked for the media's sensitivity and respect surrounding her privacy.
When asked to respond to Turner's denial in the police report of the alleged rape, Kianerci said the case is still ongoing.
"We base our decisions on the totality of the evidence, not just based on one self-serving statement," she said.
Turner is expected to return for a plea hearing in the Palo Alto Courthouse on March 30 at 9 a.m.