Bill in Response to Stanford Rape Case Clears Key Vote

committee picture dodd
Assemblymembers Bill Dodd and Evan Low present their sexual assault sentencing reform bill in the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday with Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci, who prosecuted the Brock Turner case. / Courtesy Photo

(From Press Release) – AB 2888, by State Legislators Asm. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Asm. Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara), passed the State Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday by a unanimous 6-0 vote.  The bill will ensure that anyone convicted of sexual assault in California cannot be sentenced to probation.  The legislators worked with Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen in crafting the proposal.  The bill next goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a hearing in August.

“Sexually assaulting vulnerable victims who are intoxicated or unconscious is a reprehensible crime and we need to treat it as such. Sentencing a felon convicted of such a crime to probation re-victimizes the victim, discourages other victims from coming forward and sends the message that sexual assault of incapacitated victims is no big deal,” said Assemblymember Bill Dodd. “This bill is about more than the sentence, it’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes. I’m thankful that our Senate colleagues joined Assemblymember Low, Senator Hill and I in advancing this much needed reform.”

Under current law, not all forms of sexual assault involving penetration are included in the list of offenses that would trigger a mandatory denial of probation.  Current law clarifies that a defendant’s use of force triggers a mandatory prison sentence. However, when a victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated, the victim is unable to resist, and the perpetrator does not have to use force. In supporting the bill, members of the Public Safety committee expressed dismay at this differential treatment.

“I’d like to thank Chairwoman Hancock and the Committee members for their vote today.  Rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist,” said Assemblymember Evan Low.  “Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion.  While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.”

 “I am so grateful to the members of the Public Safety Committee, as well as Assemblymen Evan Low and Bill Dodd, for bringing us closer to protecting the next Emily Doe against the next Brock Turner.  They not only read Emily Doe’s now famous letter, but they clearly understood it as cry for change. A natural consequence of drinking too much is a hangover, not a sexual assault,” said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.

In March 2015, Brock Turner, a Stanford University student was convicted on 3 felony counts of sexual assault of an intoxicated and unconscious woman. Despite the fact that the defendant was eligible for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced the defendant to 6 months in jail and 3 years’ probation. The sentence has been justifiably criticized by many as unethically lenient, given the horrific nature of the crime.

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7 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    “While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.”

    I doubt that anyone believes more than I do in the prevention of rape and other violent crimes, it is a serious error to believe that sending an individual to prison will “make sure it never happens again”. Locking up a Brock Turner will not prevent him from taking sexual advantage of others in the future ( unless you give him a life sentence) nor will it prevent others from doing the same. How many of these young men, often thoroughly intoxicated themselves, are thinking about anything other than their genitals at the time these assaults occur? How many young women who engage in these types of partying behaviors will be deterred from getting drunk again because of this incident even with the victim’s impassioned statement about its effects on her ?

    I do not believe that the answer is imprisonment. I believe that it will take nothing less than a societal shift away from glorification of this kind of activity as the “fun” part of going away to college and as a rite of passage. Until we stop portraying this kind of behavior as “harmless fun” and portray it as the dangerous abandonment of judgement and responsibility that it is, will we see less of these types of incidents.

     

  2. nameless

    Locking up a Brock Turner will not prevent him from taking sexual advantage of others in the future ( unless you give him a life sentence) nor will it prevent others from doing the same.

    So Brock Turner or other sexual predators should not be punished, because in your view it won’t stop them from committing rape in the future?  What will stop them in your view?  Your logic escapes me…

     

    1. Tia Will

      nameless

      Your logic escapes me…”

      Yes, I am sure it does because we have already had this conversation and I have already answered this question. But I can repeat.

      I believe that actual and potential victim safety should be the issue….not punishment. I would favor house arrest with a tracking device, permanent registration as a sex offender, and community service….forever for all I care. He will no more be able to rape women who do not come into his home than he would be to rape or be raped while in prison.

      So I have a question for you ? Given the lack of efficacy in view of recidivism rates, why is it that you see prison as the only solution ?

      1. nameless

        Prison keeps serial rapists off the street and away from potential victims (deterrence).  I very much doubt that many people would go for your idea of merely putting rapists under house arrest.  Your method of house arrest will not necessarily keep rapists from raping again.  Many serial rapists live just down the street from their victims.

  3. WesC

    This proposed bill is another simplistic feel good response that will do nothing toward solving this problem. Does anything really think that young men are convinced that they can rape someone and nothing will happen or at most they will get a slap on the wrist if convicted?

    Turner now has a permanent record of 3(?) felony convictions (3 felony counts) and life time registration as a sex offender. In addition to this, during his brief incarceration he will probably be the recipient of some serious jailhouse justice at the hands of his fellow inmates because there is honor among thieves and rapists and child molesters are considered scum that need to taught a lesson.

    As a father of a college age daughter I have had many conversations with her where I have told her that getting ********* drunk at a college party and not having some testosterone driven inebriated guy to try to take advantage of  her and get in her pants is like expecting to be able to walk around by yourself in the Tenderloin at 1:00AM with a couple of $100 bills hanging out of your pocket and not have someone try to mug you.  In a perfect world where everyone was honest and forthright and there was no such thing as immoral, unethical or illegal behavior we wouldn’t have to worry about things like this. Believe it or not the world is not perfect and there are people who are not honest or forthright, and engage in immoral, unethical, and illegal behavior whenever is suits them

    1. nameless

      WesC: “As a father of a college age daughter I have had many conversations with her where I have told her that getting ********* drunk at a college party and not having some testosterone driven inebriated guy to try to take advantage of  her and get in her pants is like expecting to be able to walk around by yourself in the Tenderloin at 1:00AM with a couple of $100 bills hanging out of your pocket and not have someone try to mug you.  In a perfect world where everyone was honest and forthright and there was no such thing as immoral, unethical or illegal behavior we wouldn’t have to worry about things like this. Believe it or not the world is not perfect and there are people who are not honest or forthright, and engage in immoral, unethical, and illegal behavior whenever is suits them

      Spot on!

  4. Eric Gelber

    I believe the sentence in this case was a serious miscarriage of justice. And I have little doubt that if the defendant had been a non-white, non-athlete, community college student, the result would have been different. That said, I do not believe the solution is removing judges’ discretion in all cases with similar charges. Judges must have discretion to impose sentences on a case-by-case basis based on the facts and circumstances. Sometimes judges exercise poor judgment. But imagine the outcome if similar legislative action were taken any time a judge imposed a clearly insufficient sentence in an individual, high-profile criminal case. We couldn’t build enough prisons.

    Speaking of inappropriate sentences:  Assemblymember Dodd should be issued a citation by the grammar police and punished accordingly for uttering the following sentence: “I’m thankful that our Senate colleagues joined Assemblymember Low, Senator Hill and I in advancing this much needed reform.”

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