Protest Held at Jail after Release of Stanford Rapist Brock Turner

Brock Turner walked out of jail with his head down, clutching a packet of hate mail received during his three-month incarceration for sexually assaulting a blacked-out woman last year after a campus party.

The 21-year-old’s release from Santa Clara County’s Main Jail just after 6am Friday drew a crush of reporters and activists, held back by a metal barricade. Cameras flashed as the disgraced Stanford University swimmer—wearing in the same clothes he wore to his June 2 sentencing hearing—rushed from the jail door to a white SUV that reportedly whisked him away to a nearby hotel.

Turner’s six-month sentence for sexual assault ignited a national outcry as his victim’s heartbreaking statement went viral on social media and branded him a symbol of campus rape. The case prompted California lawmakers to introduce a bill that would toughen penalties for sexual assault and a campaign to remove the judge from the bench.

Outside the jail, women’s rights groups held up signs protesting his early release and demanding to recall the judge who sentenced him to a short lockup instead of years in prison. Four hours after Turner’s abrupt exit, sexual assault survivors joined well over 100 protesters and a lineup of politicians for a rally to recall Judge Aaron Persky.

“Hey hey, ho ho, Judge Persky has got to go!” a group of about a dozen women chanted.

Nearby, a row of women hoisted anti-Persky banners that read: “I don’t always rule in favor of trust fund rapists ... Oh, wait. Yes I do.” Another sign: “Blame the victim. Ignore eyewitnesses. Tickle-slap the rapist.”

Michele Dauber, a Stanford professor leading the campaign to oust Persky, kicked off the rally by pointing out what she called a pattern of bias against women. His decision in the Turner case sent a dangerous message to other victims, she told the crowd from a podium across the street from the jail.

“To victims of sexual violence it sent the message, ‘Don’t’ bother to call the police because you will not get justice,’” she said. “And to potential perpetrators it sent the message, ‘Don’t’ worry, the courts will have your back.’”

Harvard Law School student and sexual assault survivor Kamilah Willingham said that like Turner’s victim, she was raped while unconscious. Unlike Turner’s victim, who remained incapacitated until the next morning, she woke up in the middle of her assault.

“I reported it even though I know how low conviction and prosecution rates are,” she said. “I knew that in order to have a shot at justice, you have to prove not only what happened to you but that you weren’t asking for it. … I thought that my assailant would be held accountable. I was wrong.”

Willingham called Persky as big a problem as Turner.

“He is the reason more victims don’t’ report these crimes,” she said of the judge. “Because even if the police believe you, even if the prosecutors believe you, even if against all odds the jurors believe you, at the end of the day that could all be undermined by a judge like Aaron Persky whose objectivity is clouded by rape culture.”

Harvard Law student and sexual assault survivor Kamilah Willingham calls for Judge Aaron Persky's recall. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

Harvard Law student and sexual assault survivor Kamilah Willingham calls for Judge Aaron Persky's recall. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

For the next hour, legislators and local leaders called for stricter penalties and harsher sentencing for sex crimes. State Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who in 2015 authored a law that requires verbal, conscious consent to engage in sexual activity, said men should join feminists in the fight to bring justice to victims.

“This is a man’s issue as well,” he said. “Because it is men who are the perpetrators of the vast majority of these crimes toward women.”

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), a former prosecutor, said there is no justice in Turner’s months-long sentence and that the judge who gave it to him should resign.

“Is Judge Persky’s job more important than protecting victims in our community?” Swalwell asked, eliciting shouts of “No!” from the audience. “Recalling a judge is not easy. It’s an extreme measure, but a measure that he deserves.”

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen denounced Persky’s sentence in the Turner case, but said it should not cost the judge his job. Instead, Rosen put his support behind legislation that would impose stricter penalties for sexual assailants.

Leading up to the rally, he called on Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would require mandatory prison time for sexually assaulting an unconscious person. In California, using force in sexual assault already requires a prison sentence, but not in cases where the victim is incapacitated and no force is used.

Steve White, the lone counterprotester at Friday's rally, called the gather "a stupid lynch mob." (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

Steve White, the lone counter-protester at the rally, called the rally "a stupid lynch mob." (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

“If we had our way, Brock Turner would be in state prison serving a six-year sentence, not going home,” Rosen wrote in a prepared statement. “However, our focus is on a bill that will require a state prison sentence, not probation, for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious person. With the governor’s signature, the next Brock Turner will go to prison.“

Turner, who will serve his probation in his home state of Ohio, will remain under watch as a registered sex offender.

He will have to check in every three months to re-register and verify that he still lives at his listed address or—or risk spending a year in prison. He will have to notify authorities if he finds a new place to live. And each time he does, authorities will have to notify neighbors that a sex offender moved in nearby. By California law, his photo, name, address and felony crimes will remain online in a public database for the rest of his life.

Ro Khanna, who’s running against Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) in the 17th Congressional District, said that’s not enough. “Here in the Bay Area, here in this county, we [must] send the message that under the rule of law, some people don’t get special treatment,” he said.

In sentencing Turner, Judge Persky considered his age, lack of a criminal record and a probation department report that recommended no prison time and only a “moderate” jail term. Turner’s threat of re-offending was deemed minimal based on a computerized risk-assessment test given to sex offenders called the Static 99-r. The diagnostic tool, which also factors in age, family history and criminal record, predicted that he had a low-to-moderate risk of committing another crime.

While there is a growing movement to force Persky from his judgeship, he has his allies, which include other jurists, law professors and public defenders who call it perfectly appropriate for a judge to follow a probation recommendation.

There’s also the question of whether a lengthy prison sentence would even produce the best outcome. Some prosecutors prefer getting a rapist into treatment and on the registry, as research has shown that punitive correctional interventions can make some offenders worse. The United States, unlike other industrially advanced nations, places more emphasis on retribution than rehabilitation.

Source: RAINN

Source: RAINN

Still, the Turner sentence raised doubts about fairness in the courts, and whether enough consideration is paid to justice for survivors. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, for every 1,000 reported rapes, only 63 lead to an arrest. For every 1,000 reported rapes, only six rapists get incarcerated for the crime.

Stanford Law School graduates Emi Young and Akiva Friedlin said critics attempting to paint Persky as biased have drawn false comparisons between Turner’s case and others that seem similar at first glance. Further, they wrote, pressuring judges to impose harsher sentences because of public backlash threatens to undo years of work by criminal justice reformers to reverse the trend of mass incarceration.

“Even in anger, the public must take a hard look at the rationale and likely effect of recalling Judge Persky,” Young and Friedlin wrote in a column on Medium.“By stoking public anger with misleading claims, the recall campaign encourages a short-sighted response without accounting for the actual sources of structural injustice, or the consequences to those already burdened by inequality.”

On a website for the campaign to retain Persky, the judge—who has served 12 years on the bench—posted a message for his supporters.

“I believe strongly in judicial independence,” he wrote in what appears to be his first public statement since he became the subject of a recall effort. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to appease politicians or ideologues. When your own rights and property are at stake, you want the judge to make a fair and lawful decision, free from political influence.”

On the website, Persky points out that he began his career prosecuting hate crimes and sexual predators for the District Attorney’s Office. He has also served as a board member of the Support Network for Battered Women and received awards for his work.

“As a judge, I have heard thousands of cases,” wrote Persky, who recently moved from the criminal to civil division. “I have a reputation for being fair to both sides.”

WARNING: One of these photos is NSFW.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Ro Khanna weighs in:

    “Here in the Bay Area, here in this county, we [must] send the message that under the rule of law, some people don’t get special treatment.”

    Good thing Khanna didn’t add the next step: “Here in the Bay Area, here in this county, here in this country…”

    But it would have been a step too far for Khanna to add: “…in this country…”. Because we know that Hillary Clinton gets special treatment all the time. The FBI just gave her a Get Out Of Jail FREE card. She should be in a federal penitentiary, just like any other citizen who flagrantly and deliberately ignored government security rules. But she’s special, see? I wonder how the feministas excuse her criminal behavior?

    And then there’s this odd comment from the putative victim:

    “I knew that in order to have a shot at justice, you have to prove not only what happened to you but that you weren’t asking for it.”

    Well, that’s flat wrong, because she can’t say whether she was asking for it or not. She admitted that she has no memory whatever of anything that happened or didn’t happen. She’s going by what other people, who weren’t there, told her had happened—as if they would know beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Personally, I think if Mr. “Brock” didn’t look like such a classic preppie, and if he didn’t have a preppie name like Brock, and especially, if he wasn’t a preppie whiteboy, this protest wouldn’t take place. In other words, if it was Ro Khanna instead of Brock Turner, this protest simply would not be happening.

    Mr. Turner is what makes this case different from all the others.There are lots of rapes. But it’s unusual for the ‘rapist’ to be someone like dweeby Brock Turner; the large majority of perps are Islamics and/or blacks, no? So this “crush” of activists are making hay with their unusual find.

    They’re also attacking the judge for doing exactly what he was supposed to do. It’s the same thing: if the judge was black, for example, those fifteen or so protestors (hardly a ‘crush of activists’) would have to go find another cause.

    (I think that laws against rape should be rigidly enforced by ‘Three Strikes’. But Gov Brown is pushing for passage of Prop 57, which would classify cases like this as “non-violent”. Keep that in mind when deciding whether to vote for Prop 57. Think of it as Gov Brown’s “Brock Turner Escape Clause”.)

    I just watch and shake my head at the upside-down world fabricated by the easily controlled emo-crowd. They’ll believe anything, so long as it fits their ‘progressive’ notions. It’s called confirmation bias; a logical fallacy. Cherry-picking, if you like. They would make endless excuses for someone from one of their approved tribes, while others are demonized based on pretty much no forensic evidence at all.

    Americans used to have the goal of ‘equal justice under the law’. But those days are gone, subverted by political correctness. If Brock was a black guy in the BLM movement, would this be in the news? Would there be a protest? Everyone knows the answer to those questions.

      • We can only go by the picture you posted, Jennifer. And out of those “upward of 100” (meaning less than 100), how many were from the media, and curious court workers, and police, and onlookers? Got a list? More pics? Post ’em if you’ve got ’em.

        • LOL the SJI still uses the same police stock photos of patrol cars in san jose from 2005. Your expecting far too much to ask for photo accuracy

          • There were about 200 people would be my guess – not clear that all were protesting, but I would think over 50 holding signs favoring the recall – something like that. I was a good sized rally, not some little leftie social gathering type thing.

  2. I guess the thought of employing deception in Brock Turner’s release from jail never entered the sheriff’s mind, as doing so would’ve denied that crowd otherwise unnoticeable females gathered the chance at a bit of much-wanted attention (and another of those elusive estrogen highs). Of course, by serving the needs of the protestors, as well as the media, the sheriff also served the needs of any member of the local lunatic fringe who, driven over the edge by the hype and hysteria surrounding Mr. Turner’s crime, might have wanted to harm the young man. By her desire to expose the young offender to the gauntlet of the angry and unattractive, the sheriff also, unnecessarily, exposed the county coffers to liability. All in all, another bad show.

  3. Protesters all 3 of you when he was released good for you, the rest of you get a life. Where were you at 5 AM, Starbucks sleeping, waiting to get TV time? Shame on you.

    • I agree. I KNEW that the outrage shown toward Brock Turner (a Sadistic Rapist, one of the worst of rape classifications) and the judge plus the forceful energy toward a movement by so many people would die down in three months. Everyone has moved on to some other in-the-moment cause that will soon be forgotten as well. Thanks to technology, immediate gratification syndrome and a short-sighted society, there’s always a new story every day that’s replaced in 24 hours. It’s a real shame that so many people who were motivated and by their actions provoked real change like various swimming bans, and worked toward ousting the hypocritical judge (look at his resume and case history) didn’t show up to protest when Mr. Sadistic Rapist was released. That was a one-time opportunity to continue shining light on the matter. And one has to wonder what the parents would do if dear sweet Mom is ever raped. Or if dear ole` DAD is ever raped by another man. So common it’s 1 in 6 every year. Did HIS rapist have a harmless 20 minutes of action? He’d want the rapist on death row. One also has to wonder if what Turner did to the victim happened to him in jail. Most likely it did, hearing about jail culture and what many prisoners like to do to little white asses. He might not be in prison but DAMN that’s karma.

  4. I have a very important message for Brock Turner,
    1. Immediately register to vote as a Democrat.
    2. Change your name to Brock Clinton, and run for office!
    3.You’ll be a hero in no time.

  5. It seems that these protesting man-haters are not out for justice but for revenge. Brock Turner (for whom I have no sympathy) will wear a scarlet letter for the rest of his days and his aspirations in life have been demolished. He is now just another pawn in the game of gender politics, just another disposable male in the trash heap of gender politics. His will be a life of continual job and personal rejection; of the soul crushing stigma of being a registered pervert and of someone who has to write “felon” on every job application from now until he dies. All this because he supposedly dry-humped some drunk woman whose consent is still sketchy, even to her. He probably deserved a good bare-butt public caning for what he did but in addition to his arguably light jail term, he will now suffer life in the prison of inescapable stigma, his name an infamy

    By contrast, a slobbering drunk party girl has achieved the coveted status of “victim”. She will now be unaccountable for every mistake or error in judgment she ever makes, blaming it not on her own shortcomings or stupidity but on the lingering “trauma she endured”, a trauma she was too drunk to even remember the day after it happened and until she heard about it from a friend and on the news, but from which she will now have constant “flash backs”; such hallucinations supported by all the misandrists who believe that any sexual contact between a male and a female is rape.

    The victim will either fade into honorable obscurity or become the CEO of some rape crisis non-profit organization from which she will draw a six figure salary while giving paid speeches and lectures about how traumatic an event she endured, notwithstanding it was an event of which she has no recollection other than that she was passed out drunk.

    There is a miscarriage of justice here; the failure to throw fresh animelles to the hounds of feminism. Where’s Lorena Bobbit when we need her?

  6. I’m impressed, the sheriff pulled off a media covered reverse perp walk out of the jail despite her being all over the media saying they were expecting “angry protesters”. Hell of an impressive PR stunt. I have no empathy for this self-centered jerk, but whisking this guy out the side door wouldn’t have been “special treatment”, it would have been in the interest of public safety and avoiding the potential for violence. The sheriff gets lucky again… what’s that saying… God loves a child and an idiot, and she’s clearly no child. I haven’t forgotten she tried at one point to create a faux conflict with her own captain to keep this slugs booking photo under cover, either

    And “clutching a packet of hate mail”? How did you know? Or is that the new poetic license of pretend journalism? Or did the sheriff literally save all the hate mail they sorted out for him so he didn’t have to read it (now that is special treatment, for the record) and hand it to him as he walked out the door, letting you know so you could add to the drama of the moment?

    Meh, anything to make the sheriff look relevant I guess.

  7. HA HA!

    Twelve whole demonstrators, and probably an equal number of “progressive” politicians on the make. Gives new meaning to the term “mass movement”.

    Here’s another gathering that’s probably larger than Michele Dauber’s trust fund children’s protest:{4103AE44-D913-4E52-AB89-073A8FE95593}

    If the Koch Brothers had a sense of humor, they could have rounded up twice as many bimbos who had been fondled or raped by Bill Clinton.

    Bill Clinton. You know, the husband (and political partner) of Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton. You know, the chief enabler for Bill Clinton’s sexual predations on women.

    What was Jennifer Wadsworth thinking?

  8. So, San Francisco gathered up 125,000 anti-Trump protestors, but only 100 show up for this? Imagine if 10,000 people show up!! I’m questioning the allocation of resources and priorities.

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