If that paragraph sounds beyond belief to you . . . well, that's how it sounds to me, too. But every word of it is true. It might be the most blatant sign yet that our court system is a dysfunctional mess, one that will require citizen oversight--and perhaps a bunch of federal prosecutions--to clean up.
Brock Turner, 20, was convicted on three felony charges in March and sentenced earlier this month to six months in county jail. Turner was arrested on January 18, 2015, after two students saw him on top of a woman behind a dumpster at about 1 a.m., near the Kappa Alpha fraternity on the Stanford campus. How brazen were Turner's actions? According to news reports, he had to be forced off his victim, then chased down and detained by passers-by until police arrived.
Charges against Turner originally included rape, but he was convicted on three felony counts--(1) Assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman; (2) Sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object; and (3) Sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
Here is how The Guardian described the incident:
Turner, who is from Dayton, Ohio, was arrested on the Palo Alto campus on 18 January 2015 after two Stanford graduate students spotted him lying on top of the victim outside of a Kappa Alpha party behind a dumpster. When officers arrived, the woman, who is not a Stanford student, was “completely unresponsive” and partially clothed, with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to police.
The two witnesses who were biking past that evening said they saw Turner “thrusting” on top of the motionless woman and that they intervened and held him until police showed up.
Turner, who had a blood-alcohol level that was twice the legal limit, testified in court that he could walk and talk at the time and acknowledged that the victim was “very drunk”. He claimed that he did not intend to rape the woman and that the encounter was consensual.
The victim, who gave emotional testimony during the trial, regained consciousness at a hospital more than three hours after the assault and told police she had no memory of the attack.
According to Alabama attorney Donald Watkins, writing on his Facebook page, California law calls for a minimum sentence of two years on each of the three counts. This apparently is why prosecutors asked for a sentence of six years. Judge Aaron Persky, of Santa Clara County Superior Court, ignored the request and the law, sentencing Turner to six months.
Multiple news outlets have reported that Turner is expected to spend only three months behind bars. US News reports that Turner is expected to be out of jail by September.
|My mugshot after being arrested for blogging in Alabama.|
The swollen eye is courtesy of Shelby County deputies, who
pummeled me inside my own home (including use of pepper
spray) without showing a warrant or stating
why they were there.
I was waiting for a ruling on the Motion to Quash, when Shelby County deputy Chris Blevins entered our home (the basement/garage), beating me up and dousing me with pepper spray while never showing a warrant and only stating his reason for being there after I had already been brutalized. I was hauled to jail, where I stayed for five months, until Carol was able to remove certain posts--even though they never had been found at trial to be false or defamatory. In fact, there was no trial, and there was no jury trial, as required by long-held defamation law.
I still can remember having inmates ask me, "What are you in for?" and seeing them double over in laughter when I said, "I was arrested for blogging." After dabbing their eyes from laughter, they usually said, "So you're the blogging guy. I heard about you. I didn't think you looked like you belonged in here."
Was I kidding when I gave that answer to such queries? Absolutely not. Riley and Duke's own actions--seeking an unlawful preliminary injunction, never asking for a trial, never asking for a jury--indicate they knew they had no defamation case. And as a matter of law, even a kangaroo court's actions showed my reporting to be neither false nor defamatory.
But I was in jail from October 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014--becoming the only journalist in the Western Hemisphere to be incarcerated during that time period. In fact, I'm the first U.S. journalist to be jailed since 2006, and I'm apparently the only one in U.S. history to be jailed because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation case.
So Brock Turner likely gets three months for sexually assaulting a woman; Roger Shuler gets more than five months for writing a blog--one that has never proven to be anything but accurate.
Is it any wonder the public might be losing faith in a court system that wastes tax dollars in huge sums--and doesn't come close to dispensing justice?