Juror in Stanford sex assault case appalled by sentence

2016-06-14 11:36
Brock Turner. (Dan Honda/San Jose Mercury News, AP)

Brock Turner. (Dan Honda/San Jose Mercury News, AP)

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Palo Alto – A juror who helped convict a former Stanford University student-athlete of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman thinks the "ridiculously lenient" six-month jail sentence imposed by the presiding judge has made a mockery of the jury's verdict, a newspaper reported Monday.

The Palo Alto Weekly published a letter that the juror sent Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky over the weekend to convey his shock and disappointment over the sentence 20-year-old Brock Turner received.

"It seems to me that you really did not accept the jury's findings," he wrote to the judge. "We were unanimous in our finding of the defendant's guilt and our verdicts were marginalised based on your own personal opinion."

The man is the first juror to speak publicly about the case. He wrote the letter and spoke to the Weekly anonymously to maintain his privacy in a case that has attracted intense media coverage. The names of the Turner jury's members have not been made public. Juror identities are not routinely released in California after they reach a verdict.

‘Shame on you’

In an interview with the newspaper, the juror said he found Turner's contention that the victim had consented to sexual content to be unpersuasive, especially compared to the accounts of the two Stanford graduate students who testified that he ran away when they confronted him on top of the motionless, partially clothed woman.

The juror said he also was swayed by a slurred, unintelligible voicemail message the woman had left her boyfriend right before Turner encountered her at a fraternity party. Prosecutors played the recording in court to demonstrate that she was too drunk to give her consent.

The juror described himself in his letter to the judge as a recently naturalised citizen and wrote that he took his civic responsibility seriously in what was his first experience on a jury.

He said he expected the predominantly male panel's "quick and decisive finding" of guilt to yield a sentence severe enough to deter future campus sexual assaults.

"But with the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape," he wrote. "Clearly there are few to no consequences for a rapist even if they are caught in the act of assaulting a defenseless, unconscious person."

The juror ended the letter with the words, "Shame on you."

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