Stanford Rape Case inspires Sex Assault legislation in California
California bill ends sex-assault loophole before Brock Turner release
Brock Turner. Santa Clara Sheriff's Office
The California Legislature voted in favor of a bill imposing stricter punishment for those convicted of sexual assault on Monday, .
The bill's passage came just four days before Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault, will be released from jail three months early for "good behavior."
Turner was originally sentenced to six months — a sentence widely denounced as overly lenient — after prosecutors asked for Turner to be sentenced to six years. The maximum sentence for these charges is 14 years.
The California bill, AB 2888, addresses a number of factors involved in trying sexual-assault cases.
For one, it states that those convicted of sexual assault cannot be sentenced to probation. Under existing California law, the use of force during sexual assault automatically ensures a prison sentence. But in cases like Turner's, which involve the sexual assault of an unconscious or severely intoxicated victim, the perpetrator may not have to use force and therefore may be eligible for probation instead of mandatory prison time.
AB 2888 seeks to close that loophole by imposing jail time for all sexual-assault convictions, regardless of the victim's mental state.
In defending the bill, California Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat representing Silicon Valley, said, "Rape is [r]ape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn't be let off with a slap on the wrist."
He continued, "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."
Low is one of three primary sponsors of the bill, the other two being Assemblyman Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, and California Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat representing San Mateo and Santa Clara, according to a press release from Dodd.
The bill passed the Assembly by a unanimous 66-0 vote, passed in the Senate, and will now be considered by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Judge Aaron Persky, who was in charge of handling Brock Turner's case, was harshly criticized for handing down a lenient sentence, and he reportedly claimed, "I take him at his word" regarding Brock Turner's version of what occurred when the events took place in January 2015.
In outlining his reasons for not giving Turner more prison time, Persky also said that he believed it would leave a "severe impact" on the convicted sex offender. In light of the negative publicity that Persky received following the sentencing, he also decided that he will no longer hear criminal cases.
Protesters and victims' rights advocates who condemned Persky's judgment in the Turner case are relieved but will still move forward with a recall effort.
"We are relieved that Judge Persky will not be handling criminal cases, at least temporarily. However, he will still be a judge, and judges rotate annually in our county. He can still transfer back to hearing criminal cases any time he chooses," Michele Dauber, head of the Recall Judge Persky campaign, said in a statement.
Video: CA Lawmakers Pass Bill Inspired by Stanford Rape Case
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