Brock Turner and his father’s pathetic plea

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Last week, social media seemed to explode with those eager to voice their opinions about the Stanford sexual assault case. For those unfamiliar with the story, Brock Turner, a former 20-year-old student at Stanford University, was found guilty last March for three counts of sexually assaulting a woman in January 2015.

Two weeks ago, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail with three yeas of probation, while he could’ve been sentenced to a maximum of 14 years in state prison. According to numerous sources, the judge feared that sending Turner to prison would have a “severe” impact on him.

Two letters were released to the public—one written by the survivor and the other by Turner’s father. The survivor wrote a powerful 12-page victim impact statement directed to her attacker, which touched on how the assault has affected her life in every way imaginable. When the letter was released to the public, many praised the survivor for coming out and speaking on behalf of other sexual assault victims.

Turner’s father wrote a measly worded letter to the judge, asking him to go easy on his son’s sentencing.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Turner’s father wrote. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

While this trial happened in the states, this story seems to be familiar to me. Even in our own communities, both in public and private spheres, we hear stories about sexual assault.

As an editorial from The East Carolina University campus newspaper explained, to believe that six months of jail time is a “steep price to pay,” shows how rape culture continues to have a visible presence in our society.

I’m not an expert on sexual assault cases, nor am I an expert in how to comfort survivors of sexual violence. However, after reporting on sexual violence for the past year, I do know this: it doesn’t matter how great of an athlete Turner was before he raped this woman. It doesn’t matter if he was drunk, high, or under any form of substances.

Rape is rape. There is no grey area. Those “excuses” are not permission slips to sexually violate anyone and his status as a successful athlete shouldn’t have granted him less time in jail than any other convict.

Over the past few years, Laurier started to take more action into educating students on what consent is. Many campus clubs and associations have hosted numerous events throughout the year to educate students on consent and who to contact for help and advice. I applaud the university administrators and the students for breaking the stigma against sexual assault. However, more needs to be done.  We need to find a better way to teach individuals on how they should control their actions, especially under the influence of substances.

That should be the primary goal.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach each other about protecting ourselves and how to give consent. Those lessons, however, shouldn’t be our primary response for stopping sexual assault on university campuses.  Alcohol does not make you a rapist.  If Turner had long felt the need to harm another woman, he should’ve gone to a professional for help.

Out of this dark story, there is some light. The survivor has given other survivors a platform to share stories and experiences. However, more focus needs to be put on stopping male assailants before they act on urges that are supposedly heightened by drugs and alcohol.

Where blame is to be placed needs some serious re-evaluation.

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