Yes, I said it. I called Brock Turner , former “All-American” swim star, a rapist. Though he was never convicted of rape, it was not for lack of trying. He was found on top of a semi-conscious or unconscious woman when two male students approached, wondering just why there were two half-naked people behind a dumpster with only one of them seeming to be involved in this tryst. And then Turner ran but was caught by these two men who clearly felt Turner had some explaining to do.
By now, you probably know the story. The victim, a fellow student, by her own admission, was intoxicated. Blitzed. Bombed. Three sheets to the wind. I could go on and come up with a slew of descriptions. She never denied it, never tried to portray herself as the sainted lady of Stanford. She had little to no memory of anything that happened. The Defense made her lack of memory a key part of their defense and their points of attack and they should have (more on that later).
But, in the end, it was unsuccessful in the trial phase. The jury was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Turner had indeed committed the three alleged violations of the law. The conviction is not that surprising because, as we say these are “bad facts” for the defense and “great facts” for the prosecution. Two witnesses, with no known connection to either Turner or the victim, testified to seeing him in the act and run when they approached. (Quick sidenote fellas: If you and a lady are getting it on outside and two guys come upon you, your first instinct might be to tell her “Let’s go” and gather your clothes and yourselves and leave. If you leave her there, possibly vulnerable to two more guys, it’s going to be very hard to believe she was a willing participant and impossible to believe you are not a classless coward of the first order). A conviction was almost a foregone conclusion. But it was not the verdict that has created the outcry here. It was the sentencing and the reactions of some people to said conviction and sentencing.
And some of those reactions, while understandable are wrong. And some of those reactions are also right.
So as to not take up too much time today, Friday we will start a series we are doing on the Turner matter and its broader impact.
-I will address the Sentencing and why efforts to recall the Judge show less of an interest in “justice” than people think;
-I will address how the outrage against lawyers in sexual assault cases is misplaced and shows a terrible misunderstanding of how the law works and why;
-I will address the very real danger of sexual assaults and how the law deals with it, including addressing false accusations (though the Turner matter is about as far from a false accusation case as they come);
Before that series begins there is something of importance that merits remembering. It has been said that women getting drunk at parties or alone in a guy’s room are like keeping the keys in the ignition of their unlocked car or leaving your house unlocked. And there may be some truth to that. But where the arguments fails is that if one leaves their keys in the ignition of their unlocked car, it does not just magically leave. A thief HAS to take advantage of the opportunity to be a thief. If you leave your house unlocked, someone still has to go into the house and commit burglary or a slew of other offenses. So, logic would tell us that to sexually assault a drunk person, it requires someone willing to sexually assault someone. Someone willing to take that next step. Unfortunately, that is what it takes to get accused of such an act. That takes less. But to actually do it? At some level, someone’s mind has to be committed to ignoring the humanity of the person in front of them.
I have known many guys, hell I have been one of those guys, who thinks he might be getting lucky tonight, then the young lady has succumbed to alcohol, and he realizes “I guess I am not getting lucky tonight” and so he calls it a night. He makes sure she gets home safe or he lets her sleep in his bed while he takes the couch or floor or he leaves, if it’s not his place. Again, it seems obvious and I can not imagine having that conversation with a young man, telling him, “oh and by the way if she passes out, don’t try to get sexual on her” because it seems so self-evident. According to several people who speak of “rape culture”, maybe it is not so self-evident and we need to have some serious conversations with our boys and young men. Even scarier is that it is self-evident, and so many just do not care.
But, on the other hand, who wants to tell anybody just waking up that she (or he) has been violated and it could have been even worse?