Brock Allen Turner is swiftly becoming a poster child for white privilege in the US criminal justice system: The 20-year-old former Stanford student received a six-month jail sentence this month for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a frat party in January 2015. Portrayed throughout his trial as a star swimmer, Turner’s good-boy image was supported by photos of him cheerfully smiling in the yearbook or at athletic evens. His actual mug shot was kept from the public for months.
On Monday (June 6), the Stanford Department of Public Safety, which was responsible for Turner’s original arrest, finally provided the mug shot taken that night.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) June 7, 2016
The Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department also released a booking photo:
According to The Cut, the public safety department and the sheriff’s department for months disagreed about whose responsibility it was to make Turner’s mug shots public; ultimately, media pressure forced their hand. Many have suggested that, had Turner been black, his mug shot would have been released immediately.
Turner, who was facing 14 years in state prison, was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation on Thursday (June 2). He was convicted for assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. Two witnesses discovered him assaulting the half-naked woman behind a dumpster.
At Turner’s sentencing, judge Aaron Persky said a long sentence would have a “severe impact” on the Stanford freshman, a swimming champion and onetime Olympic hopeful.“There is less moral culpability attached to the defendant who is … intoxicated,” Persky said, essentially suggesting that alcohol at least partially excused Turner’s crime.
A Change.org petition to remove Persky—identified by The Guardian as a Stanford alumnus who was captain of the lacrosse team—has garnered more than 260,000 signatures so far, and a law professor at Stanford is spearheading efforts to recall Persky. Outrage over the sentencing was exacerbated this week by comments from Turner’s father, who said his son was paying a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action.”
The victim, meanwhile, read a powerful letter to Turner at the sentencing. The letter was later published on Buzzfeed and read aloud on CNN.