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Former Stanford swimmer found guilty of sexual assault

Jury convicts Brock Turner of assaulting unconscious woman outside frat party in January 2015

Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student, was convicted Wednesday of three felonies relating to his sexual assault of a woman outside a fraternity party in January 2015.

After two days of deliberation in a Palo Alto courthouse, a Santa Clara County jury returned with a guilty verdict on all three counts facing the all-star swimmer: assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person.

The victim, "Emily Doe" (the Weekly has changed her name to protect her privacy), testified last Friday, March 25, that she did not remember meeting Turner but recalled drinking at the party and then waking up on a hospital gurney at Valley Medical Center in San Jose. It was only then that she learned from a police deputy that she had been sexually assaulted.

Turner, 20, pleaded not guilty and testified last Wednesday, March 23, that Doe had consented to their sexual encounter outside the party. He also claimed that she was conscious and responsive throughout their interactions that evening, including when they kissed and when he digitally penetrated her.

But two witnesses -- graduate students bicycling through the Stanford campus -- said that when they passed by a Dumpster at the rear of the Kappa Alpha fraternity house and saw Turner thrusting vigorously on top of Doe, she was unconscious. Her dress was pulled up above her waist. After they shouted at Turner, he got up and ran away, they testified.

One of the students, Peter Jonsson, tripped and tackled Turner and pinned him down. Jonsson was helped by the other student, Carl Arndt, who first checked on Doe.

The jury of eight men and four women did not look directly at Turner while the court clerk read the verdict, but they gazed in the direction of Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky.

As the first count was read, Turner's mother sobbed uncontrollably and sank into her husband's arms. Turner's parents clutched each other as his older brother and sister looked stunned and began to cry, but Turner remained relatively stoic, his face tense and looking down, and his foot bouncing nervously.

Doe and her grandmother gently wept and hugged. She raised her head upward, nodding approvingly on several occasions, and smiled through her tears. The two women clutched hands tightly.

Turner's mother cried out loudly and stamped her foot when Persky initially remanded Turner into custody, but upon a request from attorney Michael Armstrong, Persky agreed to allow Turner to remain free until his sentencing, which will take place on June 2.

The jurors left the courtroom and the courthouse in silence and told the bailiff that they did not want to talk publicly about the case.

A friend of the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said Doe is "very relieved."

"She feels very validated. The thought of the not guilty verdict scared her. She just wants to feel like she matters. This is huge," the friend said.

Turner waited until the public left the courtroom, then joined his parents and siblings. They were escorted through a side door and avoided reporters.

Armstrong, Turner's attorney, declined to comment on the case or whether he'll file an appeal.

The judge has a sentencing range to choose from, and Turner faces two, four or six years in prison for count one; and three, six or eight years in prison for each of the other two counts. All three are "straight" felony charges, which can never be reduced to misdemeanor status, even if the court grants probation, said Jerome Mullins, a longtime Santa Clara County criminal defense attorney.

Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci and District Attorney Jeff Rosen held a press conference on the courthouse steps.

"We need to change the culture, and it's on all of us to do that. Today, the Santa Clara County jury gave a verdict, which I hope will clearly reverberate throughout colleges, high schools and everywhere in our county. And I want there to be no doubt of the distinction between consensual sex and sexual assault," Rosen said. "'No' means 'no.' Drunk means 'no.' Passed out or unconscious means 'no.' And sex without consent means criminal assault."

Rosen made a point of thanking Jonsson and Arndt for intervening. They prevented what could have been an even worse sexual assault, he said.

Rosen also thanked Doe for stepping forward.

"Most victims of sexual assault do not come forward, do not contact the police and hold inside them what happened for years and years. But the victim in this case was brave and had strength and courage and came forward," he said. "It was very difficult for her to do this, and we are grateful and appreciative of what she did to bring accountability and justice to the perpetrator of this terrible crime."

Kianerci said Doe is holding up, although the incident and the case have been very traumatic.

"She feels validated that her voice has been heard," she said.

The testimony of Arndt and Jonsson were key to winning the case, "without a doubt," Kianerci said.

"Without them, this would've gone either unreported or unsolved," she said.

Kianerci acknowledged that she faced an uphill battle in countering the image of Turner as clean-cut.

"He didn't look the part of what rapists look like, and then coupled with that is being a Stanford student and being an Olympic hopeful or a star athlete. Obviously, human nature guides that -- that's going to be a factor. ... But obviously this jury saw the evidence," she said.

Turner should do some jail time so that he is punished but also so that others in the community will know that this type of conduct has severe consequences, Kianerci added.

"Hopefully, it will send a message not only to Mr. Turner but to every victim out there that their voices are heard and they feel a little more comfortable moving forward," she said.

"Nobody wins in this situation. ... The message needs to be sent to everyone on campuses and in the community: If you make that mistake and make that decision to engage in sexual activity when somebody's too intoxicated, you will possibly end up in court or in jail."

Turner will have to register as a sex offender as a result of his conviction, a status that could follow him for the rest of his life. He would have to register wherever he lives with the police and would be barred from residing close to schools and other locations where children are near.

Mullins, a San Jose criminal defense attorney who has defended many cases in Palo Alto, said that some sex offenders are able to get a certificate of rehabilitation through the court, but that is only after at least 10 years. If Turner were to do time or receive three years of probation, the clock toward that 10-year waiting period would not start ticking until the probation ended, he said.

There are three levels to even approach getting the certificate, and most offenders, especially felons, are barred from even applying. Turner is not barred from applying for the certificate of rehabilitation, according to law, but he would not be removed from the sex-offender registration list if a court does grant the certificate, Mullins said. Only a dismissal signed by the governor would remove him as a registrant.

If Turner makes the appeal for a certificate of rehabilitation, he would do so at the Superior Court wherever he resides, and he would have to show that he made extraordinary progress to rehabilitate himself through acts and good deeds in the community, for example.

After the certificate is signed by a judge, the case would automatically go to the state probation board, which would recommend -- or not -- for the governor to grant him a dismissal. That is next to impossible in sexual-assault cases, however, Mullins added.

"No California governor has ever pardoned a sex offender," he said. "It's too political."

The consequences of carrying a sex-offender status are severe, affecting everything from housing to employment, he said. Mullins, along with others, believes the system needs revision.

"There needs to be a tiered registration system, but it's a political hot potato," he said, noting that for persons who are convicted of minor to serious sex crimes there is currently little chance for redemption.

That idea is gaining ground. The California Sexual Offender Registration Board, which oversees sexual offenders, has said it wants to remove low-risk offenders from the registry after 10 or 20 years if they have not repeated an offense because the current system is too unwieldy.

---

The Palo Alto Weekly has created an archive of past news articles, social media reaction and other content related to the ongoing sexual assault issues at Stanford University. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by Commenter
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm

[Post removed.]


84 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Glad to see justice has been served


25 people like this
Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 30, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Terrace Antelope is a registered user.

Sucks, two lives ruined... Dudes need to be aware of when a girl is incapable of giving consent. Hopefully freshman and rookie partiers around the country (and world) will sit up and take notice of this lesson as they embark on what will hopefully be a fun and safe adolscence party-time.


62 people like this
Posted by Anonymous52
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 7:48 pm

Anonymous52 is a registered user.

This conviction was wrong and I feel that our court system is messed up. I randomly came upon this case (no affiliation with it at all) and I have to say, what happened here is the fault of both individuals and nobody should be blamed.

Both individuals were drinking. This leads to impaired judgment on both sides. [Portion removed.]

This kind of stuff happens all the time at frat parties in colleges across the country, and it is why it is important for everyone to watch how much they drink. [Portion removed.]

In terms of charges, this guy should not have felonies on his record nor should he go to jail for years and years. I don’t think he should go to jail at all, as these kinds of things happen when people are intoxicated at parties (and they know what they are getting themselves into by making the decision to binge drink – or at least they should). Our resources should be better spent on sending real criminals to jail. It is obvious that this guy is not a real criminal and is smart enough to learn from his mistakes! Why punish him SO harshly, and yet the real criminals who blindly attack people run free in the mean time?

[Portion removed.]


39 people like this
Posted by Zalltime
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Zalltime is a registered user.

It is really unfortunate for Turner, but actions have consequences.


47 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Lisa is a registered user.

Thank you Santa Clara County. What Mr. Turner did to Emily was wrong and I hope he comes to understand why [portion removed.]


80 people like this
Posted by PaloAltoResident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm

PaloAltoResident is a registered user.

Anonymous52. [Portion removed.] The jury heard two weeks of evidence, including testimony from several witnesses about Turner's predatory behavior that night. Plus, he was apprehended in the act by two Good Samaritans. [Portion removed.] This guy should definitely go to jail. He sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster! Hopefully, you agree that this should be against the law.


61 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Anonymous52, if she gave consent then why did Turner run when the two bicyclists happened upon them?

The jury made the right decision. Get well Emily Doe.


22 people like this
Posted by Anonymous52
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Anonymous52 is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] The jury is NOT always right. Our court system is not always right - far from it. Much of what happens in our courts does not always make sense!

I would assume that this guy ran when two bicyclists found him because he was startled, embarrassed (about engaging in sexual activity), or frightened that he was going to get hurt. He was drunk - who knows what he was thinking?

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous52
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Anonymous52 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:04 pm

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

Very tragic.

Two lives changed forever.
Male aggressiveness should be dealt with.
Too much alcohol and are drugs are prevelent in our college fraternities and dorms.

This should be discussed in colleges so this can't be repeated again.


My sympathy for the victim.
Hope Stanford can educate students to refrain from repeating these crimes.

Respectfully


37 people like this
Posted by Zalltime
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Zalltime is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

But what convinced me, and what must have convinced the jury, is the testimony of the 2 witnesses who saw Turner thrust his pelvis in the direction of Doe's reproductive part, and then further testimony from the victim & medical respondents confirming her being passed out, unconscious.

So that most likely sealed the deal.


6 people like this
Posted by Anonymous52
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:55 pm

Anonymous52 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Ann
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2016 at 6:30 am

Ann is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Jerusha
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2016 at 10:50 am

Jerusha is a registered user.

So glad that justice prevailed. [Portion removed.] I was truly afraid he would get away with this heinous crime.


34 people like this
Posted by Woman
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2016 at 11:19 am

Woman is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

Turner was wrong but shouldn't be punished as much as some stranger who rapes a person or a child molester.

Women need to keep themselves safe and watch their drinking. Even when women are completely sober at a party, they are still targets. Yeah, it's not right, but we have to live with reality. And let's not forget the date rape drugs. IT'S REALITY, women! Keep yourself safe. [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Woman
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2016 at 11:33 am

Woman is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


40 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Annette is a registered user.

What a horribly fateful night for two young people. As has been pointed out, BOTH young people were drinking. Excessively. I find it difficult to place this young man in the same category as a hardened, truly criminal and predatory rapist. At the time he was a 19 year old kid who was seriously impaired by alcohol, as was the woman. If he has a pattern of such behavior what his future now holds would make more sense to me, but as is I think a bad situation was made worse. As for Stanford - what gives? PLEASE be more assertive about curbing on campus under age drinking.


27 people like this
Posted by TruthOrConsequences
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2016 at 2:55 pm

TruthOrConsequences is a registered user.

Yes, Turner was impaired by alcohol. But who is responsible for that impairment?

Just because a woman consumes alcohol to excess does not, in a civilized society, give license to someone to sexually assault her.

How would you feel if someone was having their way with you, while you were unconscious, leaving you naked from the waist down on the grass?

Turner is responsible. The jury has rightfully found him guilty -- on all three counts. The judge can take into account any mitigating circumstances in deciding Turner's sentence.


34 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2016 at 4:15 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

No. The victim bears no responsibility whatsoever. A woman should be safe from sexual assault even when she gets very drunk. A woman should be safe from sexual assault even when she wears very sexy cloths, or no cloths at all. Turner deserves to spend many years in prison, because he committed a heinous crime. Hopefully, this sentence will help combat the culture of college jocks, and the males who are not jocks, commiting acts of sexual violence against women


35 people like this
Posted by home.melissa
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2016 at 5:38 pm

home.melissa is a registered user.

This is so sad and such a terrible tragedy for both young people. But the punishment and likely prison sentence seem massively excessive for the young man. It was his first offense. Both he and victim were heavily intoxicated. Is a long prison sentence really appropriate??

Maybe a new and different legal category is needed. Maybe instead of rape if this crime was called 'nonconsensual sex under the influence' it could be handled 'much' better.

Let's look at another area where the overconsumption of alcohol can have terrible consequences. It is very possible to kill someone when drink driving. If this happens depending on the state you may get a DUI plus a number of other penalties like manslaughter, second or third degree murder or for a first offense, you might face a reckless endangerment, or vehicular homicide charge. But it would very rarely be seen as first degree murder. And the distinction seems appropriate.

If school boards and colleges want to do something to address this issue I think the most useful thing they could do would be to work on lobbying to have this crime categorized as something other than rape. It would lesson the stigma for the victim and perpetrator and allow for more accurate sentencing and hopefully rehabilitation .... imo.

But school boards will not do it. Guess why? Because they will be terrified of a feminist backlash. Academics complain that freedom of speech for 'difficult' subjects is being constantly eroded by groups that seek to have a dominant voice based on 'their' need. It is a dangerous trend that will erode the justice system and in this case start fostering real male aggression and resentfulness toward women. You can not help but feel that some of Donald Trump's supporters would see this as another sign of a politically correct society gone wrong. And then look at his extreme and unpleasant policies. It's time to defend reason and common sense and this is a great place to start.


25 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2016 at 6:13 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Yes, a long prison sentence is very appropriate for him. Should we have let him sexually assault a few more women, here and perhaps at the Rio Olympics before slapping his wrist and giving him a ridiculously light sentence, just so we are not labled politically correct and don't offend the Donald trump misogynist crowd, a sentence that would have taught him nothing? [Portion removed.]


34 people like this
Posted by na
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 31, 2016 at 6:17 pm

na is a registered user.

I hear many mentions of how tough a sentence it is for Turner, but let's think about the victim. She has to carry this for life. She has a life sentence because of his selfish act. It can't be over looked as a "one time" mistake. We don't really know if it was a one time mistake and there should be consequences to fit the crime. If he is let off easy that would be a slap in the face to Doe.


18 people like this
Posted by Stretch
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Stretch is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] The guy ran because what he was doing was wrong, and the jury knew it.


24 people like this
Posted by home.melissa
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2016 at 7:16 pm

home.melissa is a registered user.

mauricio and na my argument is not that the victim has not suffered or does not deserve justice but that the crime is maybe not correctly categorized and the penalty is too high.

You seriously think that the young man would have been a 'rapist' if sober? He and the victim found themselves in a dangerous and dysfunctional situation 'because' of the alcohol, their youth and lack of sexual experience ... maybe also his unspent sexual aggression. These factors should be taken into account when sentencing. He certainly deserves an 'appropriate' penalty.

But I also take issue with the victim having a 'life sentence'. I don't think she does. She will not have her freedom removed and all future life chances erased. [Portion removed.] She will carry emotional scars but maintain her liberty. Language that suggests otherwise just feeds ridiculously long sentences as the macabre story is created that rape victims live lives ruined forever so the rapist must spend 'his' life in jail. This emotive language is wrong.


27 people like this
Posted by myscreenname
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2016 at 7:52 pm

myscreenname is a registered user.

Hey sister, Let's go to a fraternity party. Maybe we should have a few drinks before we go. When we get there, let's drink so much that we black out. What could possibly go wrong? After all, whatever happens, I bear no responsibility. It's the law.

As for the guy. Hey, here is a drunk girl. She seems to like me (and everybody else). Let's go out behind the dumpster and make out. Maybe we can find some lawn so she knows I respect her. Get a room stupid. Or better yet, get her phone number and call her when she is sober.

Tragic.


39 people like this
Posted by Kay
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 31, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Kay is a registered user.

This whole case is another example of political correctness. Two drunk college students making mistakes. Yes, he stepped over the line.....but 3 felony counts? That is outrageous. The court is obviously trying to send a message, but has ruined this young man's life. I also think the young woman should take some responsibility for getting drunk and not staying with her sister/friend, or checking in. College students make mistakes, act strangely, and do stupid things.......courts are not the right venue to judge and punish these kinds of misdeeds. Also, shouldn't Stanford bear some responsibility for allowing these parties and drinking to take place? What a sad day for our society to judge so harshly this young man.......


25 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Lisa is a registered user.

He knew what he was doing. [Portion removed.]
Now we are supposed to be lenient on his sentence because of his swimming talent. Turner showed no concern for his swimming or swim team by drinking midseason.


27 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 1, 2016 at 10:40 am

mauricio is a registered user.

This guy didn't "step out of line" and it was not a "misdeed". [Portion removed.] I believe that those who claim it wasn't such a serious thing and the victim shares responsibility actually act, inadvertently, as the enablers of sexual offenders.


14 people like this
Posted by myscreenname
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm

myscreenname is a registered user.

Excuse me people. The rape charge was dropped. [Portion removed.] He is not going to have his life ruined for raping the girl. He is going to have his life ruined for putting his hand where it didn't belong [portion removed.] These are serious felonies but they are not rape. If I had been on the jury, I would have voted for 2 of the three counts. I personally have a real problem sending somebody to jail because I think he intended to take his pants off when I can't read minds and his pants were on. He can go to jail for putting his hand where it didn't belong if that is the appropriate penalty for that crime but don't put him away for rape when that wasn't the charge.


13 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Lisa is a registered user.

After Turner slept and sobered up the police interviewed him that morning. He indicated in that interview it was his intentions to have intercourse with her. The jury got to hear the audio and see the video of Turner that morning. I believe that is what led to the attempted rape conviction.


26 people like this
Posted by BayAreaReader
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 2, 2016 at 10:44 am

BayAreaReader is a registered user.

I have a buddy in Ohio that has a son, also a swimmer. He knows Turners family through swimming circles a little bit, and told me they are, in fact, good decent people. He told me that the vast majority of people back there believe that Turner did a very stupid thing, but it was done under the influence of alcohol. Punishment, yes. The punishment he got, no.
In other words, it isn't who he is, or a reflection on his family. So, my point is this..... some of you make comments about his family background, but none of us actually know them. Let's not make those assumptions because from what I have come to understand, they simply are not true.
Just stick to comments about the case itself.


7 people like this
Posted by Terrified for my Daughter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Terrified for my Daughter is a registered user.

Frat and Sorority parties, as well as predatory male students, are the reason my employer ( an attorney ) would not allow his daughter to attend Stanford-- even though she was accepted).

My daughter wants to go to law school there, but I will not allow it. That school is simply unsafe for women. The faculty and administration don't care!

I know many parents lately who have forbidden their daughters to even apply to Stanford!


1 person likes this
Posted by myscreenname
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2016 at 1:58 pm

myscreenname is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@BayAreaReader - thank you for you comments. @TruthorConsequences - Of course Turner is responsible for his impairment. Doesn't everyone bear that same responsibility for themselves? Some postings suggest that this case is about much more than this defendant's actions. It seems to me that the charges and the verdict are holding Turner alone responsible for all that went wrong that fateful night. Colleges must acknowledge that students are young, many are away from home for the first time, there's a drinking age for a reason, frat parties invite all sorts of known perils, and impaired people can find themselves in ruinous situations. Such as this one. Also, does anyone really believe that hardened predators are deterred by this verdict - or even paying attention to it? This is all very sad for everyone involved - and that is an understatement.


7 people like this
Posted by myscreenname
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm

myscreenname is a registered user.

@Terrified Let me try this again. There are lists of schools that are under investigation for Title 9 violations involving sexual assault and also lists of schools that have problems as you are saying Stanford has. It would be a shame for you to deny your daughter from attending any of these schools. She might hold that against you for the rest of your life. Some of these lists do not even have Stanford on them, some do. But in no list that I was able to find was Stanford at the top of the list. This is a nation wide problem and one that is likely getting better compared to decades past and that is a good thing. But in no way is this just a Stanford problem or is Stanford unique in having a problem. [Portion removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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