News

Justices reject Brock Turner's appeal

Three-justice panel concludes there was sufficient evidence to sentence former Stanford student

Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexual assault of an unconscious and intoxicated woman, exits the Santa Clara County Main Jail after serving a three-month sentence on Sept. 2, 2016. Photo by Veronica Weber.

An appellate court affirmed on Wednesday the conviction of former Stanford University student Brock Turner, who was controversially sentenced to six months in jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated woman outside an on-campus fraternity party in 2015.

The Turner case spurred nationwide uproar over the leniency of the sentence issued by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who voters recalled in June. It also prompted an appeal from Turner, whose attorney argued last month that the prosecution didn't have sufficient evidence to convict Turner. The appeal called the conviction of Turner "fundamentally unfair" and noted that at the time of the encounter, which was broken up by two graduate students, Turner was fully dressed and was engaging in "outercourse," which is a "version of safe sex."

Turner's attorney Eric Multhaup also argued that there wasn't enough evidence to support the assertion that the woman was too intoxicated to resist, or that Turner should have reasonably known that the woman -- who is referred to as Jane 1 in the ruling -- was too intoxicated. He also pointed to the absence of DNA evidence on the woman's underwear as proof that she consented.

The 6th District Court of Appeal rejected these arguments. In their 17-page ruling, Associate Justices Franklin Elia, Adrienne Grover and Wendy Clark Duffy concluded that there was "substantial evidence that the defendant knew Jane 1 was unconscious at the time he sexually penetrated her with his finger." They pointed to evidence indicating that the digital penetration "occurred shortly before the graduate students arrived and Jane 1 appeared, even from a distance, to be unconscious."

"When the graduate students confronted defendant, he ran," the ruling states. "He did not explain or defend himself to them. And he lied to police about running. Jurors reasonably could have inferred from the foregoing evidence that defendant knew Jane 1 was unconscious when he digitally penetrated her."

The justices also wrote in the ruling that they were not persuaded by Turner's contention that "he was fully clothed and engaged in forms of sexual conduct other than intercourse -- namely, 'fingering' and 'dry humping' -- which negates the idea that he intended to commit rape."

The fact that he was engaging in these acts at the time he was interrupted "does not foreclose the inference that he intended, ultimately, to rape Jane 1," the ruling states.

"Neither the evidence nor common sense supports defendant's contention that 'dry humping' is 'mutually exclusive to actual intercourse,'" the ruling states. "And even assuming defendant's alternative interpretation of the evidence -- that he was to continue to 'dry hump' Jane 1 to the point of ejaculation and nothing further -- is reasonable, that does not compel reversal."

The panel also argued that Turner should have known Jane 1 was too drunk to consent to sexual activity. Less than an hour before she and Turner left the party, she left her boyfriend a voicemail in which she was "slurring and incomprehensible." Shortly after she was found lying half-naked on a patch of dirt, her blood-alcohol content was found to be 0.241 percent, according to the ruling. Her "extreme intoxication," Franklin wrote in the judgment, "should have been apparent to those with whom she interacted between 12:30 and 1 a.m."

"That Jane 1's incapacity was apparent to passersby likewise supports the inference that defendant, who was on top of her, should have been aware that she was too intoxicated to resist," the ruling states.

The Wednesday ruling upholds the jury's conclusion that Turner was guilty of 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. Turner served half of his six-month sentence and was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

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Comments

60 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm

The evidence supports the conviction. Now Mr. Turner, please go away.


40 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2018 at 9:11 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Flip through the photos at the top of the San Francisco Chronicle's article. Seems Turner wasn't the well-behaved sober guy he claimed to be to justify his light sentence.

Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Who Cares
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2018 at 9:56 pm

Move on people. He did his time and is being monitored for life. What else do you want from this dude. Can't convict him again to satisfy public opinion.


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2018 at 10:06 pm

[Post removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by The last man standing
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 8, 2018 at 11:19 pm

Dear "Who cares"- the only reason this is in the news 'again' is because HE filed to appeal his conviction.


4 people like this
Posted by Bill ClinTrump
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2018 at 11:40 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Seelam Prabhakar Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2018 at 4:42 am

Seelam Prabhakar Reddy is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


71 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 9, 2018 at 6:35 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Brock Turner is the luckiest guy in the world. If justice had prevailed, he would be serving now several years of hard time in a state prison, but, thanks to a bad and extraordinarily lenient judge, he is living with his parents in an affluent suburb of Dayton, Ohio.

The fact he appealed at all is sheer and nausiating chutzpah, and the fact his attorney used the most absurd arguments in the appeal(outercourse, really/) explains why lawyers are universally held in such low regard. It is clear that turner feels no remorse and no shame, and I suspect he will not crawl back into the woodwork, like he should.


Like this comment
Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Aletheia is a registered user.

[Post removed. A jury heard the testimony and rendered its decision. Please don't use this as an opportunity to re-try the case.]


2 people like this
Posted by mindandheart
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2018 at 4:39 pm

mindandheart is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

And what would make the most serious aspect of Turner’s sentence, being required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, be in the most insignificant part of the article (the last sentence), instead of appearing alongside the first paragraph’s mention of the jail sentence? Mention of his lifetime sex offender registration was also entirely absent in the PA Weekly Editorial on the matter a while ago during voting season, IIRC, and continues to be downplayed or ignored entirely. It is inaccurate and, yes, “fundamentally unfair” to do this.


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