Monday, June 13, 2016

Three essential points from Cathy Young's The Brock Turner case: Sexual assault, mob justice, and the war on "rape culture"

From The Brock Turner case: Sexual assault, mob justice, and the war on "rape culture":

Would a black student in a similar situation get a similar sentence? Yes.
While I think there's elite college athlete privilege at work, Baylor University football player Sam Ukwuachu, who is black, was given a 6-month jail sentence and 10 years' probation last year after being convicted of sexually assaulting a female former Baylor soccer player. (An ex-girlfriend also testified that Ukwuachu had battered and choked her.) Obviously, a single case does not prove a pattern. But one may legitimately wonder if a black defendant would have been picked as the "face of campus sexual assault," the way Turner was.
Is it possible that Turner did not intend to rape his victim and therefore received an appropriate sentence? Yes.
The defense theory was that the victim consented to sex and passed out at some point during the sexual activity, and presumably that Turner (who was also heavily intoxicated though not as much as the victim, with his blood alcohol level twice the legal driving limit and hers 3 times) was too out of it to notice. Is this a possibility? Phone records do indicate that the victim was conscious, though disoriented, about 15 minutes before she was found with Turner; she called her boyfriend and left an incoherent message. If Turner was too drunk to notice that she had passed out, I don't think that absolves him of responsibility, any more than a drunk driver is absolved of responsibility if s/he is too drunk to realize s/he shouldn't get behind the wheel. But it could make this a crime of negligence more than intent, in which case the six-month sentence seems more adequate (especially combined with additional penalties: probation, a lifelong ban from the Stanford campus, and probably lifetime sex offender registration).
Was the light sentence recommended and supported by women? Yes.
...the probation officer who recommended the light sentence (on the grounds of Turner's youth, lack of criminal record, and intoxicated state at the time of the crime) is a woman. The head of the Santa Clara Public Defender's Office, Molly O'Neal -- a feminist, an openly gay woman and the mother of a college-bound daughter -- has also defended the sentence as fair and not out of the ordinary given the details of this case. I still believe it was too light; however, there is clearly a legitimate, non-misogynist view that the sentence was appropriate.