North Texas Daily

It’s time the media hold Brock Turner accountable

It’s time the media hold Brock Turner accountable

June 10
16:03 2016

Throughout the past week, a case known to many as the “Stanford swimmer” trial has erupted over social media, wreaking havoc as many try to understand the situation.

For those who may not know, the Stanford swimmer case is a sexual assault trial. The accused, Brock Turner, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a girl behind some dumpsters after a party on the Stanford campus.

The question here is not whether Turner was guilty – as he was found unanimously guilty by the jury on three separate counts. The outrage is over Turner’s sentencing and apparent privilege because of his swimming capabilities.

With the maximum sentencing of 14 years, Turner will spend only 6 months in jail for his crimes. News outlets nearly refuse to label him as what he is – a criminal. Instead, they focus on Turner’s swimming abilities and all that he will lose now that he has been found guilty.

Santa Clara Sheriff's Department

Courtesy | Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department

According to Judge Persky, anything heavier than a six-month sentence would have a “severe impact on him” and the judge did not believe Turner would be a danger to others.

Yes. You read that correctly.

A man accused and found guilty of sexual assault would not be a danger to others. Going to jail would have a severe impact on his life. It should because his victim will have to deal with the psychological side-effects of his actions for the rest of her life.

This egregious statement clearly outlines a problem in our society. In any other situation, Turner would be forced to serve a much longer sentence. Due to the fact that Turner can swim quickly, he is classified with an elite privilege – that of an athlete.

When the story of the victim’s sexual assault broke, the reporting news outlet had the audacity to mention Turner’s swimming times. Turner, 19, is accused of sexual assault. He was found on top of the victim, who was unconscious. He was tackled by two men, who were riding their bikes to another party and could tell something was wrong. One was crying and so distraught, he couldn’t speak about what happened. Oh, by the way, he’s a really good swimmer.

When athletes commit crimes, news outlets always find a way to mention how incredible the accused is at their sport, as if that somehow excuses anything they’ve done. Sure, he committed the crime. No one is arguing that. But, come on, he’s a really good swimmer.

If Turner seemed genuinely apologetic for his actions, perhaps a lighter sentence would be okay. However, he chose to go through with a trial, hoping to be found not guilty.

The way the justice system coddled him is a stark resemblance to how society does. When not properly punished for their actions, criminals will continue to push the system. Brock Turner might never learn personal boundaries — or the meaning of consent.

It is our justice system that has failed him.

Turner’s father argued that his son has paid his dues because he doesn’t enjoy the same foods anymore. He can’t eat steak anymore. As if being turned off by steak is somehow an acceptable punishment for his crimes. His father argued that his son has paid enough for his “20 minutes of action.” This ignorance is perhaps why Turner believed that what he did was acceptable.

When “boys will be boys” is an excuse for things that men do, rape culture continues. Turner’s “20 minutes of action,” as his father explained it, were criminal. He didn’t swim a race. He violated a woman’s personal space without her consent.

Turner’s father dismisses his wrongdoings like he took his father’s car for a joyride. His actions were not a silly, forgivable thing. When fathers dismiss their son’s actions as excusable, their sons learn how to get away with egregious acts.

Turner believes his actions were based on the amount of alcohol he consumed that night. Instead of apologizing for his actions, he is using party culture as a scapegoat. Alcohol doesn’t make you sexually assault women. There are plenty of people who drink regularly and have never committed the act of sexual assault.

Alcohol doesn’t excuse what Brock Turner did. Just as it is never the reason someone is assaulted or raped, it cannot be the reason these acts happen. As some say, drunk words are sober thoughts. Perhaps Brock Turner is sicker than we think he is – and he just couldn’t hold out any longer.

One thing is for sure: our justice system needs to hold criminals accountable. No matter what their personal achievements are, or how much money they have, a criminal is a criminal. Brock Turner is a criminal and is getting away with gross misuse of our legal system

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