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COLUMN: Brock Turner should be considered a rapist



Things do not always happen as they should. This is a statement for which it is so easy to find evidence that it may seem strange to pay any attention to it rather than take it for granted.

We live on the third planet from the sun, we need water to survive and the world is an abundantly absurd place where mistakes are made. That I am engaging directly with such an obvious statement comes from my recent confrontation with a stunningly ridiculous reminder of just how absurd our world is.

What is that reminder? Brock Turner is appealing his sexual assault conviction.

The man who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and served only three out of the six months of his abhorrently lenient sentence somehow feels he has been mistreated.

I recognize that, by the current terms of California state law, I cannot actually call Brock Turner a rapist. This technicality, however, is a mistake that causes unjust damage for victims and obstructs the justice they deserve. 

Turner was found guilty of three felony charges, including assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

If you are confused as to how penetration with a foreign object does not actually qualify as rape, the best explanation I can offer you is that the state of California defines rape as an act of “sexual intercourse,” which necessitates in this case that the foreign object be Turner’s penis.

Defining rape in this way is not only harmful to victims, but also out of date with federal standards. As of 2013, the FBI’s definition of rape is “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” 

This definition more accurately encompasses the actions we ought to classify as rape, and it is with this definition in mind that I call Brock Turner a rapist. 

And yet, Turner feels that it is he, rather than his victim, who has suffered an injustice.

Turner’s father infamously lamented that his son’s life should not be ruined for “20 minutes of action.” Judge Aaron Persky feared the “severe impact” of a longer prison sentence. It now appears that Turner has taken these sentiments to heart enough to feel justified in taking legal action. 

Grievances include the exclusion of testimonies from character witnesses, lack of instruction for jurors to consider lesser charges and mischaracterization of the circumstance of the assault. 

Turner wants it known that he assaulted his victim near a dumpster rather than behind it, because the latter description implies he was trying to hide his behavior. 

Let me be clear: there is no such thing as a man who is too good to be capable of rape. Jurors should not consider mild sentences for rapists. No matter where or how a rapist commits the crime, rape is rape. 

Rape is rape, and our definition of rape should include nonconsensual penetration of any kind so that we can provide victims with justice and predators with punishment.

mareklei@indiana.edu
@mklein319

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