Brock Turner and Sexual Assault: Where Is the Conservative Outrage?

This undated booking photo provided by Santa Clara County Sheriff shows Brock Turner a former Stanford University swimmer who received six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Dan Turner, Brock's father has ignited more outrage over the case by saying his son already has paid a steep price for "20 minutes of action" and said in a letter to the judge that the conviction of his son, on three felony sexual assault charges has shattered the 20-year-old, who has lost his appetite.

By Alex Chediak Published on June 10, 2016

The sexual assault trial of former Stanford student-athlete Brock Turner and the sentencing issued last Thursday have riveted the attention of the nation. They come in the wake of intense scrutiny of universities all across the country for the handling of past allegations of sexual assault.

By now you’re probably familiar with the facts. On the evening of January 17, 2015, Turner encountered his victim (“Emily Doe”) at a frat party. Later that night, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson discovered Turner behind a dumpster on top of a half-naked Doe. The fact that Doe appeared to be unconscious prompted Arndt and Jonsson to stop. When questioned, Turner ran. After verifying that Doe was alive (breathing, though unconscious), Arndt and Jonsson chased Turner and held him for questioning by police.

Doe pressed charges. After a jury trial, Turner received three sexual assault convictions: assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person. Prosecutors requested that Turner receive six years of jail time (he faced up to 14 years). The judge handed down a jail sentence of six months — and he may only serve half of that — to be followed by three years of probation. Turner was also required to be registered as a sex offender.

Some have argued that Turner did not technically commit rape — that consent is too murky to discern when two highly inebriated people are having a spontaneous sex encounter. This coheres with a growing instinct among some conservatives to be leery of campus rape claims, since some feminists have suggested there is a “rape culture” in America — as if rape is somehow a cultural norm, with every man a potential villain. This idea that rape is rampant is actually rejected by the leading voice for sexual-assault victim advocacy, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

In fact, California law distinguishes rape from sexual assault. And in this case  a jury, not a campus committee, unanimously found Turner guilty on three counts of sexual assault. This was far more than a typical college hook-up in a dorm room. Two eyewitnesses testified that Doe was unconscious, on the ground, covered with pine needles — hardly a typical location for consensual sex. Moreover, Doe was passed out, and thus could not have been actively consenting.

Even if she passed out during the interaction with Turner, shouldn’t he have stopped? If Arndt and Jonsson noticed she wasn’t moving, shouldn’t the much-closer Turner have noticed? Turner attempted to flee the scene rather than tell Arndt and Jonsson to buzz off while he and his gal had fun. Even Turner’s excuse that alcohol impaired his decision-making faculties seems weak: Arndt and Jonsson testified that Turner’s speech was not slurred and he was able to run (quite unlike Doe).

As for the sentencing, many defendants would not have had the financial or social means to secure the aggressive legal representation and family and friends PR campaign that benefitted Turner. The judge who sentenced Turner to one tenth (10%) of the prison time that prosecutors requested is himself a former Stanford athlete, and thus may have identified with the defendant. Lastly, note the excuse-making, blame-shifting tone of the letter from Brock’s father. If Brock was so contrite, as his father claims, why didn’t he plead guilty to any of the charges, or at least seek to settle out of court? Doe would have been receptive to such candor and contrition (and Brock’s consequences would have been even less severe).

So here’s my question, and it’s what prompted me to write this piece: Where is the conservative outrage on this issue? Vice President Biden wrote an open letter to the assault victim, praising her bravery over the last 18 months. It’s mostly left-leaning bloggers who have lit up social media, sharing Emily Doe’s heart wrenching 12-page impact statement (over 5 million views), a statement Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called “the most eloquent, powerful and compelling piece of victim advocacy that I’ve seen in my 20 years as a prosecutor.”

Just a few weeks ago we conservatives were (rightly) concerned about Target’s new bathroom policy and the danger to women and girls that it represented. We were concerned, we said, not so much with the small number of transgender females — who dress, look, and otherwise act like women — but with imposters, with men who would see this as an opportunity to prey upon women. In other words, we didn’t want to harass transgenders, we wanted to protect women. And that was appropriate. But when we fail to speak on issues like Brock Turner’s sexual assault conviction, we inadvertently give credence to the view that we’re really just a bunch of transphobes who don’t actually care about protecting women from sexual assault.

Oh, and there’s this: We’ll have a Presidential election in less than five months. Conservatives will be opposed by the first woman in American history to win the nomination of a major party. Her most likely (main) opponent? A man known for his history of misogynistic statements and his glorification of adultery.

I have a feeling this movie does not end well.

Yes, I know. Not all campus rape and sexual assault claims are legit. The UVA rape story was a hoax. And some feminists persist with overstating the frequency of rape. Nevertheless, there comes a time for calling a spade a spade. Setting aside arguments over technical definitions, Turner clearly took advantage of this woman, and would have continued doing so had Arndt and Jonsson not interrupted him. Then Turner leveraged his money and clout to stonewall his victim for over a year, voicing a weak statement of remorse only after being convicted on three charges for which he had originally pled not guilty.

Is it fair to say that a libertine, quasi-animalistic sexual ethic may have contributed to Turner assuming that Doe was there for the taking? Yes. Is it fair to say that college students shouldn’t binge drink, because it lowers inhibitions and impairs mental faculties? Yes. Are there lessons we can tell our daughters about how to stay safe at parties? Of course. But being drunk doesn’t justify a man taking off your clothes and violating you. Doe’s intoxication and unconsciousness makes Turner more responsible, not less. Conservatives need to unequivocally stand with the dignity of every woman who finds herself as a victim of abuse.

 

Alex Chediak’s book Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011) is a roadmap for how students can best navigate the social, academic, and professional challenges of their college years. His other books include Beating the College Debt Trap (Zondervan, 2015) and Preparing Your Teens for College (Tyndale House, 2014). Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com.

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  • Jeff

    As Conservatives and especially as Christians, we MUST be consistent in our moral outrage. While the “rape culture” touted by leftist, feminist activists is a myth, the reality of what this “person” did is not and anything less than a real punishment invites others to take the risk and exploit and abuse other women. Shameful!

    • sc_cannon

      I am conservative and I am not outraged. The gulf between raping a women and maiming or killing a woman is wide and deep, still these outraged people want to give this kid the death penalty effectively for what he did. In this case there was no harm, no damage, and maybe no real rule violation and still ghouls like you want to jump on the guy and do real damage. You guys are not much different than a lynch mob in my opinion.

      • Bob

        No harm, no damage?

      • Zac H

        sc_cannon, in light of your comments, I hope you are somehow ignorant of the facts of this case. Don’t know if you have kids, but how would you feel about the 6 months sentence if it was your daughter? And you’re creating a straw man by saying we want the death penalty or a lynching. No, this criminal just needs to serve a real sentence rather than a slap on the wrist for forcibly penetrating an unconscious woman.

  • Dean Bruckner

    Those of us who have been telling the truth about the Big Lie of the s3xual revolution for years are very sad about this outcome. We are not rejoicing; we are heartbroken that this young woman has become the cannon fodder of the cultural Marxists. We pray for her healing and salvation. But it is all so predictable, and we’ve said so for years, in the face of ridicule, unbelief and hostility. We’ve risked much to do so. Perhaps that’s why our reaction is more one of speechlessness. The Big Lie has reaped what it has sown, and we hate that. And so our anger right now is properly directed more at the thugs who created this culture and continue to suppress the truth, despite our efforts.

    Of course this thug should be punished more severely, and the judge should be recalled and never again given a position of legal responsibility. But this is a symptom of the culture’s rejection of God, and will be repeated thousands and millions of times. Progressivism poisons everything, and results in despair, disease, depression and death. THAT is the proper target that demands our greatest wrath.

    • Very insightful. I mainly agree. For this one article, I wanted to focus on the horror of her sexual assault, the unreasonably light sentence, and the need for conservatives to hear this woman and enter into her pain.

      Thank you.

      • Dean Bruckner

        You’re welcome, and thanks for the reply, and for bringing this to everyone’s attention. That’s what the Body of Christ does.

  • Jenn

    Thanks for this thoughtful article. I agree that it seems as though, in light of conservatives’ complete lack of concern over the Brock Turner sentencing, conservatives probably never really cared about women’s safety in the bathroom debates, only about pushing their transphobic agenda. I agree that it completely seems that way.

    • Dean Bruckner

      Our goal is to do what IS right, not what feels right or looks right. Yes, it’s great when those line up. But the Left specializes in separating them and somehow avoiding what IS right. Ultimately, it’s up to God to right those wrongs, and one day everyone will see things as they really are. The Bible says that will happen, in Romans 2:14-16:

      “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

      I’m willing to wait for that day.

      • Jenn

        Really? Because it seems like maybe 1 or 2 in 10 conservatives are speaking out on this girl’s behalf, while around 7 in 10 liberals are speaking out about it. Please see above article.

        • Dean Bruckner

          Talk is cheap, especially when it’s the fashionable thing to do. But let it cost something to.speak up and liberals either scatter like the wind, or else punish the.speaker.

          How many libs are speaking up for the unborn? How many are protesting abortion mills, like the shop of slaughter run by Kermit Gosnell? How many have taken a public stand against the 55 million preborn babies killed in this nation since 1973? How many live on minimum wage, like Randy Alcorn, because he did.all those things but was savagely treated by Planned Parenthood?

          How many libs pay the price to tell the truth about the complete disaster of the sexual revolution, and pay the price for it like Robert Oscar Lopez?

          I can think only of one, Nat Hentoff.

          So until the Left speaks the truth when it costs something, my comment stands, and I don’t want to hear any more about such worthless liberal virtue signaling like this.

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