Sunday, June 5, 2016

Corporate Judge Imposes Lenient Rape Sentence on College Athlete

A woman who was raped wrote a heart-rending letter to her rapist. However, a corporate judge only gave the rapist six months in prison, with the possibility of it being reduced to three for good behavior. Why? Because he didn’t want to hurt the rapist’s feelings. The letter reads in part:

"One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me."

"It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault."

"Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference."

There are two kinds of judges on the bench. Most are conscientious and do their best to uphold the law in a way that takes into account the human factor. But certain judges are corporate judges, who only serve to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of us. Like Shylock in the Merchant of Venice, judges like that are totally impervious to human suffering. The judge’s reasoning:

Turner received a sentence of just six months with the judge expressing concern over that a longer sentence would "have a severe impact on him."

The athlete, Brock Turner, was duly convicted by a jury of three felonies relating to this rape. The prosecutor did his job.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he was disappointed that the judge did not sentence Turner to prison.

"The punishment does not fit the crime," Rosen said in a statement after the sentence was announced Thursday. "The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim's ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape."

A jury in March found Turner guilty of three felony sexual assault counts for the January 2015 attack, which was interrupted by two graduate students who saw him assaulting a partially clothed woman behind a trash bin. Turner tried to flee, but the students tackled and pinned him down until police arrived and arrested him.

There is a serious appearance of a conflict of interest regarding the judge in the case, Aaron Persky.

In June 2016, Persky was heavily criticized for giving Stanford rapist Brock Turner a commuted sentence of six months in jail after he had been found guilty of rape, because it was deemed jail would have a "severe impact" on him.

At Stanford , Judge Persky had been captain of the lacrosse team, so the light sentence was seen as sympathy for a fellow Stanford athlete. Stanford Law professor Michele Dauber has launched a campaign to recall Persky in light of the ruling.

The victim said that she was disappointed with the light sentence Persky gave Turner and was and angry that Turner still denied sexually assaulting her.

Judges and prosecutors have a responsibility to recuse themselves every time there is an appearance of a conflict of interest. The fact that the judge was a Stanford athlete and the fact that Turner was a Stanford athlete created the widespread perception of a conflict of interest in the community and seriously undermined public confidence in that justice system.

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