California Passes Rape Bill Inspired By Stanford Case

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Brock TurnerBrock Turner

California lawmakers are taking a stand and closing the loophole that allowed Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to get an extremely lenient six-month jail sentence for sexual assault.

The 20-year-old garnered national attention after he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a party on the Stanford campus. Critics claim his six-month sentence was too short and did not fit the crime.

He was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person, Reuters reports. Because there was no penile penetration, none of these charges were actually considered "rape" under the eyes of the law.

As a result, Turner was able to get a sentence that many critics called too lenient. He is set to be released Sept. 2, for good behavior, according to The Huffington Post. He has only served three months behind bars.

Turner's sentence has also inspired attempts to remove County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who is responsible for Turner's sentence. Persky has recently asked to be moved to civil court.

The new legislation hopes to close the loophole and change the definition of rape. The bill has gone to California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign, although he has yet to indicate if he will sign it. 

"Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that," said co-author of the bill, Democratic Assemblyman Bill Dodd of Napa, in a statement, reports the New York Daily News. "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." 

While California law does require a mandatory prison sentence in sexual assault cases, that rule does not apply if the victim was unconscious or intoxicated, which is what happened in the Turner case. 

“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," Dodd said in the statement, reports Reuters.

Sources: Reuters, New York Daily News, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Stanford University Public Safety via CNN

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