Governor Signs Bill In Response To Stanford Rape Case Verdict

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committee picture dodd

(From Press Release) – Assembly Bill 2888 by Assemblymembers Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Friday.  The new law requires that those convicted of sexually assaulting unconscious or severely intoxicated victims are sentenced to prison. AB 2888 was introduced in response to the shockingly lenient sentence given to Brock Turner by Judge Aaron Persky in the recent Stanford rape case.  The legislators worked closely with Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen in crafting the proposal.

“Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a reprehensible crime, and now our laws better reflect that. Sentences like those in the Brock Turner case discourage other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal,” Assemblymember Dodd said. “I want to thank Governor Brown and my fellow legislators for standing with victims and building a culture that will help prevent these appalling crimes. Thanks to this law, convicted felons like Brock Turner will no longer be able to avoid state prison.”

Prior to the bill being signed into law, not all forms of sexual assault involving penetration were included in the list of offenses that would trigger a mandatory denial of probation. For example, a perpetrator at a college party who chose to forcibly rape a conscious victim would go to prison. However, a different perpetrator at the same party who chose to watch and wait for a victim to pass out from intoxication before sexually assaulting her was eligible for probation. With AB 2888 being signed into law, that loophole has been closed.

“The national awakening about campus sexual assaults started by Emily Doe’s powerful letter continues to grow, changing our minds and our laws,” DA Rosen said. “While prisons are not appropriate for every person convicted of a crime, rapists belong in prison.”

“I want to thank Governor Brown for his signing AB 2888. This sends the strongest possible message that rape is rape and in California, if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time,” Assemblymember Low said. “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 have made sure it never happens again.”

Turner was convicted earlier this year on 3 felony counts of sexually assaulting Emily Doe, as she lay unconscious on the ground after a Stanford fraternity party. Her 12-page letter went internationally viral when a judge sentenced the Stanford swimmer to only six-months in county jail sentence, despite the fact that Turner was eligible for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison. Had this law been in place when Turner was sentenced, he would have been required to serve time in state prison.

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4 thoughts on “Governor Signs Bill In Response To Stanford Rape Case Verdict”

  1. PhillipColeman

    The “separation of powers” (in this instance Legislative and Judicial) has had a controlling norm that their line of separation should not be altered by a single incident, and should be visited infrequently. This legislation is a rare instance where one crime sentencing precipitated an immediate legislative response that reduced judicial discretion.

    Two conclusions can be offered: (1) The case disposition giving rise to this legislation was especially offensive to the public eye. (2) The standard norm for separation of powers intervention has been changed.

    The judiciary could easily view this as an unwarranted legislative intrusion of an authority they once possessed. The judiciary has the ability to respond to the Legislature through the appellate court process. We sure are living in interesting times.

  2. Tia Will

    Phil

    Thanks for your interesting take on this matter. Having made my opinion very clear to one of its major proponents, I would once again like to express it here on the Vanguard.

    My main goal is primary prevention whether that is with regard to individual health and wellness or public health or societal well being. We are all best served by preventing a bad outcome and are very poorly served by non preventative, punitive measures. With that in mind, I would offer this criticism of this hastily devised and forwarded, politically opportunistic bill.

    1. In the case of the perpetrator, prison would be no more effective and much more expensive than would be house arrest and obligatory compensation to the victim and public service.

    2. In the case of preventing such an action by other young men, one of the chief proponents of the measure stated to me in person that they did not believe that it would be a deterrent to other young men since in a drunken, testosterone fueled setting such as a drinking party, their actions would not be driven by a conscious, thoughtful assessment of their chances of going to prison for their actions. As a matter of fact, the outcome of this case would likely be unknown to the vast majority of the at risk young men. Thus it would be unlikely that it would deter anyone from attending one of these parties, the point in time at which the knowledge would need to be considered rather than once they have already started drinking.

    So if even an ardent supporter believes that the bill will not be preventative, and is only punitive, what have we actually achieved ?

    1. Biddlin

      Mandatory imprisonment may be seen as “just”  by those who have served and are still serving sentences for lesser crimes. If the perpetrator had been a Latino or African-American dropout, do you think he would have walked?

  3. Tia Will

    Biddlin

    Mandatory imprisonment may be seen as “just”  by those who have served…”

    I can see how they might have that perspective. However, I do not think that because we have not chosen optimally in the past that we should continue in our same ineffective ways just because we have done so in the past. Hopefully we will continually evolve as a society which will doubtless mean that younger people will have advantages that their seniors did not have…..even in our judicial and penal systems.

    “…do you think he would have walked?”

    Probably not….but that should not be a consideration any more than should what penalties have been for his predecessors.  It is apparent to me that all should be treated equally. It is also apparent to me that we have not yet achieved that societal state.

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