Three years later: Brock Turner and sexual assault
Victoria Bresnahan – General Assignment Reporter
Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy, and Support Center (VPAS) graduate intern Mary Xatse said with new sexual assault allegations emerging, Brock Turner’s case has resurfaced.
“There is news about his appeal and it can be a whirlwind,” said Xatse. “A lot of people aren’t sure how they feel about it or not sure who they can talk to about it. With the kind of environment we want to create in our center, we want people to talk to us, be encouraged and know they are supported.”
Xatse led the conversation at the Brock Turner panel discussion last week which focused on topics such as the verdict Turner received, how students feel towards the handling of the case and affirmative consent.
According to a flyer handed out at the discussion, Turner, an ex-Stanford University student, was accused in 2015 of sexually assaulting a woman, known only as Emily, behind a dumpster while she was intoxicated and unconscious.
The flyer stated Turner was found guilty of three felony counts—one being intent to commit rape. He served three of his six-month sentence and is a registered sex offender. He was not officially convicted of rape, according to the flyer.
During the discussion, Xatse said California state law did not consider Turner’s actions, such as using a foreign object to penetrate the survivor, to definitionally be rape at the time of his case.
Ultimately, Xatse said VPAS wants students feeling empowered and able to help others through bystander intervention.
“We want them to process things and we don’t want to stuff emotions away,” said Xatse. “At the same time, if they leave [the discussion] empowered, then that’s fantastic.”
Olivia Carney, graduate student studying clinical mental counseling, said she attended the discussion because the case is important to talk about on college campuses. Carney said the laws need to match up with the criminal justice system; if they do not, then the highest justice can not be provided to survivors.
“Because the survivor was penetrated with a foreign object, there was a loophole in the law,” said Carney. “I do believe with a different judge things would have turned out differently. But unfortunately loopholes like that make it so even if you have someone who is really fighting for justice, there is still a chance justice won’t be seen.”
Amanda Moreau, a graduate student and participant of the discussion, said her initial reaction to Turner’s case was delayed until she read the Emily’s statement to the court. Moreau said she was infuriated with the case and with the possibility Turner may now appeal his case.
“I’ve worked with survivors before and with the Connecticut sexual assault crisis hotline, so I really understand where [Emily] is coming from,” said Moreau. “Knowing that out of every 100, only one gets a conviction—even just getting a conviction was a huge move. I feel like this started to spark the conversations that we are already starting.”
Having conversations such as this discussion, said Carney, is the best way to address issues of sexual misconduct. She said even if it does not affect someone personally, people should continue to talk about these issues because they are affecting somebody else.
“I wouldn’t say that [Southern] is not doing enough, or that we are doing enough,” said Carney. “I think it just means the conversation just really has to continue.”
Photo Credit: August Pelliccio