As thousands voiced outrage over the lenient sentence given to a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault, the university itself issued a statement lamenting "a significant amount of misinformation" about the school's role in the investigation.
In March, 20-year-old Brock Turner was convicted of a slew of felonies, including intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person, according to CNN.
Turner was found guilty of assaulting a woman who was unconscious and could have served as many as 14 years in prison, according to the Guardian. Prosecutors in the case asked the judge to sentence Turner to at least six years in prison for the January 2015 assault. Turner was reportedly caught when two students who were biking across campus that night spotted him straddling the half-naked and unconscious woman behind a dumpster, CNN notes.
But Judge Aaron Persky, a Stanford alumnus and former athlete at the school, sentenced Turner to just six months in jail on June 2. Turner will also be required to register as a sex offender.
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The judge said he worried that a prison sentence would harm Turner long-term.
"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him," Persky said, per CNN. "I think he will not be a danger to others."
A statement by Turner's father, in which he said his son was being held accountable for "20 minutes of action," and the refusal on the part of police to release Turner's mugshot fueled the flames among activists and observers on social media, who blasted Turner's family and authorities for not considering the victim's plight. Police eventually released two mugshots of Turner in early June after months of requests by media organizations. They did not provide a reason for why they withheld the mugshots for so long.
As outrage continues to mount, the university issued a statement on June 6 saying it did "everything within its power to assure that justice was served in this case, including an immediate police investigation and referral to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for a successful prosecution."
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The school said it dismissed Turner and banned him from campus, which is "the harshest sanction a university can impose on a student."
"This was a horrible incident, and we understand the anger and deep emotion it has generated," the school's statement read. "There is still much work to be done, not just here, but everywhere, to create a culture that does not tolerate sexual violence in any form and a judicial system that deals appropriately with sexual assault cases."
The victim read an account of her ordeal in court, and since then the letter has gone viral. In her letter, the victim describes waking up in a hospital, confused and not knowing what had happened to her. She recounted her disbelief when doctors told her she'd been sexually assaulted and her younger sister's anguish as she stood by her side.
"On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately," the victim wrote. "But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information."