STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — A former Stanford University student who made national headlines for receiving a months-long jail sentence after being convicted of attempted rape is appealing the verdict.
A lawyer for Brock Turner told a California Court of Appeals panel Tuesday that Turner never intended to rape the partially dressed, unconscious woman he was found on top of outside a fraternity party in January 2015.
According to the Associated Press, Justice Franklin D. Elia appeared skeptical, telling attorney Eric Malthaup, “I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about.” He said the law “requires the jury verdict to be honored.”
Turner was found guilty of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person with a foreign object.
During the incident, two Swedish graduate students stopped the assault. “She was unconscious. The entire time. I checked her and she didn’t move at all,” Carl-Fredrik Arndt told CBS News in 2016, adding they saw Turner “aggressively thrusting his hips into her.”
The case received national attention after the 23-year-old victim read a statement to Turner in court. In it she wrote, “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.[…] I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it.”
Stoking the online rage was a tone-deaf statement from Turner’s father, who said his son, a one-time Olympic swimming hopeful, didn’t deserve jail time for his crime.
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Dan Turner told Judge Aaron Persky in a letter. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” As evidence of Turner’s “devastation,” he cited his son’s loss of appetite, including for “a big ribeye steak” which the father said he used to be “excited to buy.”
The letter was one of dozens sent to Persky in defense of Turner, who could have been incarcerated for up to 14 years. However, Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail and three years probation in 2016.
Advocates for victims of sexual abuse who believed the sentence was too lenient started a petition to get Persky off the bench, leading to a recall vote this past June. Fellow judges and legal experts criticized the blowback against Persky, some saying that, even if they didn’t agree with the sentence, they believed he did nothing wrong.
Persky was eventually recalled by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
In the wake of the verdict, California. Gov. Jerry brown signed a mandatory minimum sentence law for people found guilty of rape, requiring them to serve prison time instead of being held in jail, as in Turner’s case. A second law allows victims to say in court they were raped, even if a sexual assault doesn’t meet the technical definition of rape under state law.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)