PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - There's growing outrage over a Santa Clara County judge's decision to give a former Stanford swimmer a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Critics are calling Brock Turner's sentence too lenient and now an online petition to recall the judge in the case has received more than 200,000 signatures as of Monday night.
Prosecutors had asked 20-year-old Brock Turner to be sentenced to six years in prison. The Stanford swimmer was convicted of three felony counts back in March for sexually assaulting an intoxicated unconscious woman outside a fraternity party. Last week, a judge sentenced Turner to six months in jail sparking outcry across the country and at Stanford.
"I think this lenient sentence is a complete injustice and it's an absolute insult," said Stephanie Pham of the Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention.
Pham is among the supporters who signed a petition to recall Santa Clara County Superior Judge Aaron Perksy. Persky had said Turner's sentence was appropriate given his lack of criminal history.
"I am defending the system in this case and I'm not pro-rape," said Legal Analyst Michael Cardoza. "I'm not saying he should have been sentenced to x number of years. Am i surprised? Yes but you don't attack the system this way. This is something we live with. This is how the system is set up."
This comes as two letters to the judge went viral, including a 12-page letter from the victim and another letter this week from Turner's father. He wrote, "In hindsight it's clear that Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into a culture of alcohol consumption and partying. This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life."
"When you look at the survivor's letter and you see how she reacted and the effects of those 20 minutes on her life and her view of her own body," said Pham. "It just shows the amount of ignorance."
"The reaction to the father's letter was just so visceral," said Stanford Sophomore Tiondre Pier. "I couldn't even finish the entire thing."
Others have taken to social media with hashtag #BrockTurner. One woman wrote, "Pretty sure if #BrockTurner were passed out behind a dumpster and a burly man got 20 minutes of action, his father would consider it rape."
In a statement, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said while he disagreed with the sentence, he didn't believe the judge should be removed. He was also pleased the victim's statements were being heard across the nation, saying she has given voice to thousands of sexual assault survivors.
Late night Monday, Stanford University issued a statement regarding the Brock Turner case. In it, they assured that they did everything in their power "to assure that justice was served in this case", which included an immediate police investigation and a "referral to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for a successful prosecution."
The University commended the graduate students who intervened in the attack and said that other witnesses cooperated in the investigation.
The following is from the Stanford statement regarding this case:
"Once Stanford learned the identity of the young woman involved, the university reached out confidentially to offer her support and to tell her the steps we were taking. In less than two weeks after the incident, Stanford had conducted an investigation and banned Turner from setting foot on campus—as a student or otherwise. This is the harshest sanction that a university can impose on a student.
There has been a significant amount of misinformation circulating about Stanford’s role. In this case, Stanford
University, its students, its police and its staff members did everything they could. Stanford University takes the issue of sexual assault extremely seriously and has been a national leader in taking concrete steps to implement prevention programs, to train students on the importance of bystander intervention, to provide support to students who may experience sexual assault and to assure that cases are handled fairly and justly.
This was a horrible incident, and we understand the anger and deep emotion it has generated. There is still much work to be done, not just here, but everywhere, to create a culture that does not tolerate sexual violence in any form and a judicial system that deals appropriately with sexual assault cases."