Court Records Shed More Light on Stanford Rape Sentence

Judge was swayed by Brock Turner's crime-free history prior to assault
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2016 5:03 AM CDT
Court Records Shed More Light on Stanford Rape Sentence
A file photo of Judge Aaron Persky.   (Jason Doiy/The Recorder via AP)

Brock Turner's clean background more than anything else spared him a lengthy prison sentence in the Stanford rape case. A newly released court transcript sheds the most light yet on the thinking of Judge Aaron Persky in handing down the controversial sentence, reports the Guardian. For example, Persky mentioned a letter written by a childhood friend of Turner's who called the crime out of character for Turner. "To me, that just rings true as to—it sort of corroborates the evidence of his character up until the night of this incident, which has been positive," said Persky. (The letter writer, a female, has since apologized after critics accused her of blaming the victim.) Persky also addressed the victim's concern that if Turner had been a minority from an underprivileged home, he surely would have gotten a longer sentence than six months. The judge flipped the logic on that one, saying that Turner's upbringing shouldn't count against him because he faced "a huge collateral consequence" over the arrest.

"I think you have to take the whole picture in terms of what impact imprisonment has on
a specific individual’s life," he said. Or as the Guardian sums up, Persky felt "Turner had more to lose." Persky also said the intense media attention to the case factored into sentencing because Turner was already suffering "significant collateral consequences." He acknowledged that Turner, like the victim, was drunk, but added, "I don’t attach very much weight to that" in terms of leniency. In the end, Persky largely sided with Turner's family, including his mother, who wrote, “I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it," per the Los Angeles Times. About 1 million people have signed online petitions calling for Persky's ouster, but so far no formal paperwork has been filed toward a recall. (More Stanford University stories.)

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