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‘Shame on you’: Juror in Stanford sexual assault case protests attacker’s sentence

A member of the jury that convicted Brock Turner of sexual assault wrote a letter to Judge Aaron Persky. Here's what the letter said. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

A member of the jury that convicted Stanford swimmer Brock Turner of rape wrote “shame on you” in a letter to the judge who imposed a six-month sentence for the crime.

The juror, whose letter was published by Palo Alto Online, said he was “absolutely shocked and appalled” by the sentence, which was imposed earlier this month by Judge Aaron Persky, who is the subject of a recall campaign after his sentence was widely criticized and the victim made a powerful statement. Turner, who is expected to serve three months of the sentence, was found guilty in March of three counts of sexual assault on an unconscious woman in January 2015 outside a fraternity party at the school. He was arrested after two graduate students stopped the assault and apprehended him.

In handing down the sentence, Persky determined that Turner’s age (20) and lack of criminal history were factors in his decision, which includes probation and forcing Turner to register as a sex offender. “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said. “I think he will not be a danger to others.”

The identity of the juror, whose request for anonymity was granted by Palo Alto Online, was confirmed by the paper. He is the only one of the 12 jurors who has made a public statement and called his first experience of serving on a jury “a disappointment” because, he told Palo Alto Online, he “felt that the judge had just ignored much of what the jurors said.

‘You took away my worth:’ Read a rape victim’s powerful letter

“After the guilty verdict I expected that this case would serve as a very strong deterrent to on-campus assaults, but with the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape,” the juror wrote. “Clearly there are few to no consequences for a rapist even if they are caught in the act of assaulting a defenseless, unconscious person.”

Ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to 6 months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman but was released from jail Sept. 2, after serving just 3 months. His light sentence has drawn harsh criticism. Here's what you need to know. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post) (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

The juror, who wrote that he recently became an American citizen after 30 years of residency, felt that Turner’s testimony, which differed from the accounts of the graduate students who said he ran when they confronted him as he was was on top of the unconscious, partly-nude woman, was not credible and noted in his letter that all 12 agreed to the verdict.

“It seems to me that you really did not accept the jury’s findings,” he wrote. “We were unanimous in our finding of the defendant’s guilt and our verdicts were marginalized based on your own personal opinion.”

‘A steep price to pay’

The juror was persuaded in part that an unintelligible voicemail message the victim had left for her boyfriend just before the encounter indicated that she was too drunk to consent to sex with the swimmer. In addition, the 12-page letter the victim wrote to Persky and read at his June 2 sentencing — a letter that has gone viral — was “very powerful. It exemplified the impact [the assault] had on her.”

In a victim impact statement she read in court June 2, the woman, whose identity has not been revealed, told Turner that: “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

The victim went on to say that she felt Turner had failed to exhibit remorse. “I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars,” she said in her statement. “The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, and of the consequences of the pain I have been forced to endure. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.”

Since that statement was widely shared, over 1.2 million people have signed the petition to recall Persky, who also heard pleas from the parents of Brock Turner. “I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete — all the publicity,” Carleen Turner wrote to the judge. “This would be a death sentence for him.” Prosecutors had asked for six years in prison, with as many as 14 possible. Dan Turner pleaded with the judge for a lenient sentence, saying that jail time would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years.”

The Swedish students who rescued an unconscious assault victim

Persky concurred and at least one juror is concerned about the sentence’s impact on future victims.

You had to justify that there were “unusual circumstances” to give Mr. Turner less than the two year minimum sentence for his crime. But the unfortunate fact is, these circumstances are not unusual. Women like Ms. Doe suffer daily from similar crimes and I fear your sentence will make these victims less willing to report their attacks.
This punishment does not fit the crime. Mr. Turner, convicted of 3 felony counts of sexual assault, will serve 3 months in county jail since he is scheduled to be released on September 2. And Mr. Turner is going to appeal the verdict, which not only is a complete waste of tax payers’ money but could mean, if he gets off, that he will not even have to register as a sex offender. How unjust would that outcome be, the slate wiped clean for a 3-count convicted sex offender?!
Justice has not been served in this case. The jury’s verdict of guilt on all three felony counts of sexual assault was completely disregarded in an effort to spare the perpetrator a ‘hardship’. What message does this send to [the victim], and indeed all victims of sexual assault and rape, especially those on college campuses? Your concern was for the impact on the assailant. I vehemently disagree, our concern should be for the victim.
Shame on you.
A Concerned Juror

As for the victim, her identity may remain unknown to most people, but she left no doubt that she stands with other victims.

“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you,” she said in her statement. “I fought every day for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you.”

The woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner on Stanford University's campus released a statement June 7, explaining why she is choosing to remain anonymous. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)