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.