Last week, the country was stirred by the determination of one victim to receive justice for the crime committed against her.
Her courageous determination to stand up for herself and state the truth of her case sparked a fire in the hearts of everyone who heard about it. Her story has already begun to reshape opinions from the casual Facebook user to the world of academic administration to the United States government.
While we may never know the victim’s name, we are already well-acquainted with the name of her assailant:
A 12-Page Indictment
The facts of the case could not be more brief nor more clear. The victim attended a party at Stanford University where she encountered Turner, a freshman. At some point during the party, the victim blacked out, and Turner seized this opportunity to sexually assault her on the ground behind a dumpster.
Two graduate students happened to pass by while Turner was assaulting the woman. Turner ran from them, but they chased him down and held him until police arrived and arrested him.
Turner’s crime was grievous enough, but it was the response from his sentencing judge that truly outraged the American public. Judge Aaron Persky, based on the consideration of Turner’s youth, lack of criminal record and state of intoxication, sentenced him to only six months in prison—well below the mandatory minimum for the crime he was convicted of.
Still, the world might never have heard about this if it had not been for the letter Turner’s victim wrote in response to the sentencing. After she read it aloud in the courtroom, the 12-page letter circulated the internet, inciting shock, disgust and decisive action in everyone who read it. This emotional, deeply personal letter served to indict Turner more than any courtroom trial ever could.
Taking Up the Cause of Victims
More information has recently come to light, the most heinous being that Turner may have texted photos of the unconscious woman to a third party. Meanwhile, a juror in Turner’s original trial published a letter in which he upbraids the judge:
“We were unanimous in our finding of the defendant’s guilt and our verdicts were marginalized based on your own personal opinion. … The ridiculously lenient sentence…makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape.”
As of today, more than one million signatures have been collected in a petition to recall Judge Persky. The vast number of people (including celebrities and politicians) taking up the victim’s cause has influenced the California legislature to expand the definition of rape to protect the rights of more victims.
“Your Bravery is Breathtaking”
Vice President Joe Biden wrote a letter in response to the victim, thanking her for offering her story “in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.”
As CNN affirms,
“It was the deeply personal words of the victim that stirred the nation and put the spotlight on an issue so often kept in the dark.”
As a victim, it can be painful to dredge up the details of the horror you’ve suffered. But you don’t have to go through it alone. If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, Jessica Pride is ready to fight to get your story heard.