Dodd Bill Responding to Stanford Rape Case Passes Legislation

committee picture dodd
Assemblymembers Bill Dodd and Evan Low present their sexual assault sentencing reform bill in the Senate Public Safety Committee in June 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) – Assembly Bill 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 Assembly today by a unanimous 66-0 vote, and goes on to Governor Brown.  AB 2888 is in response to the shockingly lenient sentence given to Brock Turner by Judge Aaron Persky in the recent Stanford rape case.  The bill will ensure that anyone convicted of sexual assault in California cannot be sentenced to probation.  The legislators worked with Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen in crafting the proposal.

“Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that. Letting felons convicted of such crimes get off with probation discourages other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal,” said Assemblymember Bill Dodd. “This bill is about more than sentencing, it’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes. I urge Governor Brown to join the legislature in standing with victims and building a culture that suppresses these reprehensible crimes.”

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.

For example, a perpetrator at a college party who chooses to forcibly rape a conscious victim will go to prison. However, a different perpetrator at the same party who chooses to watch and wait for a victim to pass out from intoxication before sexually assaulting her may get probation.

“Rape is Rape, and 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.  Current law actually incentivizes rapists to get their victims intoxicated before assaulting them.  While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.”

“We thank Evan Low, Bill Dodd, Jerry Hill, and Governor Brown for helping make California safer for women today. Mostly, we thank Emily Doe for her courageous letter. It gave all of us the inspiration to make sure the next Brock Turner either leaves the next Emily Doe alone, or the next Brock Turner goes to prison,” said Santa Clara 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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  1. Tia Will

    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.”

    As a strong women’s health and safety advocate, personally and by profession, it might surprise some to hear that I do not support this bill. I think it is an example of a knee jerk, binary thinking approach to a real problem. I believe that what is needed in is not to consider only two possibilities ( prison vs probation) but a much broader spectrum of possibilities for future cases. Just one example. House arrest. This would provide containment so that the perpetrator would not be free to go out commit the same act again without costing the taxpayers for the incarceration of the offender. It would not expose the offender to the possibility of being victimized himself within the confines of the prison. This could be enacted with some form of compensation to the victim, either monetary and/or some form of compulsory compensatory service to the community. I certainly do not favor “a slap on the wrist” as a penalty for rape. But I also do not favor imprisonment as the best and only alternative. I do favor a solution that causes the perpetrator to daily face and accept responsibility for his actions while preventing further such actions. Surely if we are willing to change our laws, we can do better than just prison or probation.

  2. Eric Gelber

    This bill was a hastily crafted gut-and-amend in response to the Brock Turner sentencing. The sentence was handed down on June 2nd; the language was drafted by a DA, and the bill was amended to its new subject matter on June 21st. Most people were justifiably outraged by the court’s sentence in the Turner case. The question, though, is whether this bill is an appropriate and properly vetted response. It takes all discretion away from judges. It assumes that there is no conceivable set of facts or circumstances in which probation would be warranted, even in the interest of justice. Concerns have also been expressed that the bill would disparately impact minority and low-income individuals, who would more likely be charged with crimes than individuals like Stanford athlete Turner.

  3. Tia Will

    I can believe that it was unanimous. In our “soft on crime” vs “tough on crime” mind set, who would be willing to stand up only to be accused of coddling a privileged rapist ?  It’s easy for me to post my opinion, much harder to support such an unpopular opinion legislatively.

  4. Dave Hart

    One other point is that I understood that the defendant was also required to register as a sex offender.  That is something that cannot be regarded as a slap on the wrist.  It is a tag that will follow him his entire life and is not a trivial thing.  Then, of course, the whole flap around this case ignores the even bigger issue of what constitutes “justice” in sentencing.  Dodd seems to be a proponent of Old Testament revenge as the highest form of justice which does nothing to help the victim and arguably does nothing or very little to address the attitudes that young males develop around their sense of sexual privilege; i.e., boys will be boys.  Jail and prison are the least effective ways to change behavior.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      yes, truly agree with DH….  Back in the 90s there was a case that included the UC Davis Games area….  I was a low level payroll/personnel clerk  (though I also did all the IT support for Student Affairs, back before departments had an IT person)….and I came out in strong support of this staff member…..I wrote a letter , and my supervisor and another close friend  who was a director, signed it….and it was published in the DE and it was also brought forth by the defense…..Anyone who was in Davis in that time would have been aware of that case.     That person’s life was ruined as a result…and we lost touch…. I will not mention so many other details of the time….but I will mention this young man was in love and the young lady also claimed she loved him….and yet his life was ruined….

      For that, and many other reasons, I do not believe this bill is the way to go….

      PS> I kinda got my hand slapped for that letter, but it was the truth….and do I care about getting my hand slapped? never have and never will

  5. Marina Kalugin

    of course, and once again the pendulum swings from one side off to the other side…..and then some other stupid cases will result in some lives destroyed due to false accusations etc ……..and then the laws will be tweaked again….

    wow and Tia and I agree again – wow….


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