California AG criticises jail term in Stanford sex assault case

Records show Brock Turner to leave prison three months early despite six-month sentence

Online inmate records show Brock Turner is expected to be released from  Santa Clara County jail on September 2nd. He was sentenced on June 2nd. File photograph: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department/Reuters

Online inmate records show Brock Turner is expected to be released from Santa Clara County jail on September 2nd. He was sentenced on June 2nd. File photograph: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department/Reuters

 

California attorney general Kamala Harris, the leading US Senate candidate from the state, has joined the outpouring of criticism of a six-month jail sentence handed to a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

Ms Harris, speaking to reporters in the San Francisco Bay area, said she was concerned the “victim’s voice was not heard” at the trial.

“It was not respected, and she was not given dignity in the process,” said Ms Harris, a Democrat, according to video from a local television station.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the man convicted in the case, Brock Turner (20), will leave prison three months early.

Online inmate records show Turner is expected to be released from the Santa Clara County jail on September 2nd. He was sentenced on June 2nd. County jail inmates serve 50 per cent of their sentences if they keep a clean disciplinary record.

Turner, of Dayton, Ohio, was convicted of attacking the woman he met at a fraternity party in January 2015 and was sentenced last week to six months in jail and three years’ probation.

The sentence triggered criticism that a star athlete from a privileged background had received special treatment. Prosecutors had asked for six years in prison.

The California attorney general has become the most high-profile elected official in California to question the duration of sentence handed down last week to Turner by a Santa Clara Superior Court judge.

“When someone is facing a 14-year (maximum sentence), which is what I believe was the exposure in this case, there has got to be extraordinarily mitigating facts to reduce it down to what I believe ended up being six months,” Ms Harris told reporters. “And I don’t know if the facts actually merit that kind of mitigation.”

Officials have said the judge, Aaron Persky, has received death threats since imposing the sentence, even as he faces a possible recall effort led by a Stanford law professor.

Joseph Macaluso, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County court, has said Judge Persky is prohibited from commenting on the case because Turner is appealing his conviction.

Mr Macaluso was not immediately available for comment on Thursday morning.

In a Fox News interview on Wednesday, one of the two students who intervened in the assault, Carl-Fredrik Arndt, told host Greta Van Susteren that Turner did not seem drunk.

“I mean, he could run,” Mr Arndt said. “He could speak without slurring at all.”

The national uproar over the sentence, fuelled in part by the victim’s statement detailing the January 2015 assault in graphic terms and its repercussions for her life, has become part of growing outrage over rape on US college campuses.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio posted a live video to his Facebook page of several people, including his wife, Chirlane McCray, and actor Cynthia Nixon, reading the letter the victim read in court addressing her attacker.

Actress Lena Dunham offered support for the victim on her Twitter page on Wednesday, posting a video about sexual assault.

The case has also struck a nerve internationally.

Social media users in China have begun protesting Turner’s sentence on the networking site Weibo, BuzzFeed reported on Thursday. The Weibo posts frequently include images of the women holding signs with messages of indignation.

“It is rape when she’s unconscious,” one sign reads. “It is still rape when he is a good swimmer.”

Meanwhile, a high school guidance counsellor who was a childhood friend of Turner apologised for writing letters of support ahead of his sentencing.

Oakwood High School counsellor Kelly Owens, of Dayton, told her school district that she should not have become involved in the case. She had told the judge Turner was “absolutely undeserving of the outcome” of the trial.

A post on a Facebook page appearing to belong to Turner’s friend Leslie Rasmussen, who also wrote to the judge in Turner’s defence, said she had made a mistake in doing so and apologised for not acknowledging the severity of the crime.

Reuters, Press Association