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It is plainly obvious that Brock Turner, who was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of a young woman at a Stanford University fraternity party, is the beneficiary of historic racial preference and vulgar economic privilege. But this is not about Brock Turner. This is about the victim of his inhumane and sociopathic actions.
Simply stated, Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman. She was apparently intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness at the time of the rape. Of course, an unconscious person cannot consent to sex under any circumstance. The source of their unconsciousness is irrelevant. As a civilized, advanced society this must be accepted without question. Yet such is not the case. To some, her state of intoxication/ unconsciousness somehow makes her at least partly culpable. This antiquated concept has caused great harm to so many victims of sexual assault. Haven’t we as a society moved beyond blaming victims of sexual assault for their behavior? Shouldn’t we instead prevent such victims from further emotional harm in holding their attacker solely responsible for the crime?
The Stanford sexual assault was witnessed by passers-by who also testified against Brock Turner at trial. The jury found Turner guilty of rape. No doubt existed that this occurred. The victim’s statement was read in court. Her life was forever changed. Yet, based upon Judge Aaron Persky’s lightweight sentence given to Turner and the statements of Turner’s father, it is clear that blame was being assigned to the victim for her “actions” in presumably not taking care to protect herself from Turner’s actions.
The light sentence given by the judge and comments by Turner’s father, including mention of the relatively short amount of time the crime took, indicate a lack of acknowledgment of the harm caused the victim. Consider if Turner had forcibly overtaken his victim or had rendered her unconscious prior to raping her. Would there be any discussion of the victim’s actions or culpability? Would there be a lightweight sentence given to Turner or mitigating factors asserted in his favor had his victim not been intoxicated? And why only in cases of rape or sexual assault? What if the crime had been murder? Certainly, the murder victim’s behavior in becoming intoxicated would not be the factor it is in the case of sexual assault.
A victim of sexual assault is a victim of sexual assault. There are no categories based upon how the victimization occurred or the victim’s actions or inactions. Brock Turner’s victim is not a “culpable victim” due to her intoxication. She is a victim. He has been convicted of assault with intent to rape and she must live with the resulting damage. The victim of Brock Turner’s heinous actions deserves this acknowledgement and treatment as do all victims of rape and sexual assault. To do otherwise is unjust and harmful.
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