The case of Brock Turner is infuriating. He engaged in sickening behavior and was found guilty of sexual assault against a 22-year-old woman. Here are three aspects of this case worth highlighting.
▪ Turner received a lenient six-month jail sentence — and he could serve even less time. The now-former Stanford University student and standout swimmer represents to many the status of white privilege wrongly afforded to well-off Americans, especially athletes.
▪ The victim read a remarkably well-written, lengthy and passionate statement at Turner’s sentencing. It is gratifying to see how many Americans have cared enough about this situation to seek it out.
▪ Some good will come out of this horrible situation.
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Toward the end of her statement, the victim delivered a positive message to women and victims of sexual assault:
“I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big knowing that you are important, ... you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you.”
In addition, New York Times writer Emily Bazelon made the optimistic contention that “the cultural and legal responses to rape are shifting, in the direction that victims and their supporters have long fought for.”
She and others pointed to the fact that Turner didn’t get away with doing what so many men have done in the past: Blame the victim. He will pay a long-term price, including having to register as a sex offender the rest of his life.
That’s not enough for many, which is entirely understandable. The Brock Turner case must continue to reverberate in America. The country still has far to go in properly punishing rapists — and in preventing unconscionable behavior that leads to sexual assaults in the first place.