This is a video of a reporter reading a letter. Listen closely.

Last Thursday, a male student at Stanford was sentenced in a hearing related to his having sexually assaulted an unconscious woman in January 2015. Despite the prosecutors asking for a sentence of up to six years, the judge handed down one of only six months, which could be further reduced because of good behaviour, because a long sentence, according to Judge Aaron Persky, would have a "severe impact on him".

The lenient sentencing has sparked outrage across America and on the internet, and a petition demanding that the judge in question be removed from the bench had attracted 191,000 signatures by Tuesday.

Turner was convicted with assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign objects. Persky was criticised by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber: "The judge had to bend over backwards to accommodate this young man. I believe that many people believe that assaults that happen on campus are less serious that assaults that happen elsewhere. I think he was very persuaded by the background of the young man as an elite athlete."

Persky has also been the judge in the De Anza civil trial, which resulted in the dropping of all charges against the defendants while the judge was criticised for not allowing witnesses to testify and showing photographs of woman partying.

At Turner's sentencing the 23-year-old woman who has not been identified read out a letter describing the turmoil and effect the assault had had on her, "Your Honour, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly. You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today." Below is a video of a reporter reading out the letter."

"I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused."

"I was pummelled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name."

At the hearing, Brock's father Dan Turner also read out a letter where he denies that his son did anything wrong. He wrote that it would be "a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 years of life". Turner felt that even the six-month sentence was too long and his son shouldn't have been sentenced in the first place.

The father's statement is problematic on multiple counts. It trivialises sexual assault and brings into focus the underlying assumption that campus rapes are not to be taken seriously because drinking and partying is involved.

In the below video by The Young Turks, the anchors question Dan Turner's labelling of the incident as not violent. "Could you ask Dan Turner, if he had gotten drunk one night, and a guy just came and raped him in the alleyway when he was passed out, would you say to him, that's not really violence. He just raped you while you were passed out."

They also point out that until now Brock Turner's mugshot has not been released by the local police department, and that the only picture released was of him wearing his suit and smiling.


The sentencing and the letters have fostered a national conversation both about rape culture and the kind of response it has in the media and online. One line of criticism is that from the beginning, Brock Turner was called a "swimmer with Olympic dreams" as if that somehow diminished the intensity of his crime. And as is pointed out in the women's letter, she was called an "unconscious intoxicated woman, ten syllables, and nothing more than that".

Another angle is the racial aspect. While people of colour are often convicted for longer terms for similar crimes, Turner was let off with relative ease.

The video below argues how one of the problems is "Toxic Masculinity" or tying in masculinity with strength and power over being able to actually feel things.

The video below analyses whether the sentencing was legal, although the legal analysts skirt around the issue and conclude, "It appears to be."


The strongest component of Brock Turner's sentencing has been that he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. However a local newspaper reported that he intends to appeal his conviction.