Friday, June 10, 2016

1654 Rape and Rib eye in Palo Alto

This is about Brock Turner, 20, the recently formered  Stanford University student convicted of raping a woman, discovered unconscious beneath him next to a dumpster.

In the panoply of stupid responses to this twisted case, the most grotesque comes from Brock’s father, Dan who says his son got a break at sentencing and should have because he has a promising future (should have said “had,”) and while jailed will miss his beloved rib eye steak.

Attention, Dan:  Your bug eyed boy was convicted of a serious crime.  He is, therefore, pending appeal, a serious criminal.  Rib eye?  Promising future?

When we write about such things, we do so keeping in mind the Duke University Lacrosse team rape case of ten years ago. When those young men were charged, everyone assumed guilt.  District Attorney Mike Nifong bet his career and his law license on it and lost both -- when the Attorney General of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, figured out and proved the story was fake.

Duke acted in advance of the not guilty verdict and suspended the team.  Lawn signs of condemnation were posted campus wide. The student newspaper howled in outrage.  Everyone -- everyone -- knew the guys were guilty.

Except… the “victim” lied.

So we think about this kind of thing when a highly publicized case of this kind arises.

But this time, Turner was convicted and the problem is not so much with that as it is with the sentence.  Judge Aaron Persky gave him six months in jail, of which he’ll have to serve three or four, three years’ probation and a lifetime listing on the national and local sex offender registries.

You can get more jail time and the offender listing for playing with yourself in a parking lot.

This time, the howls of outrage were directed at the judge.  Calls for his removal.  Death threats.  

Turner’s “character references,” his allegedly clean record and the championship athleticism of both defendant and judge -- himself a former star at Stanford -- kept the sentence low.

Except Turner’s record wasn’t all that clean. Turns out he lied about his brushes with the law over underage drinking back home in Oakwood, Ohio. Prosecutors put all that in the sentencing recommendation.  

Probation authorities, perhaps less alert, more overworked and in a rush recommended the sentence the judge pronounced.

Turner’s lawyers used a new version of the “affluenza defense,” invented for another bug eyed young criminal who was said to have been so shielded from reality by his rich parents that he just didn’t know that murder was wrong.

The new variation?  The “country boy defense.” Poor little Brock.  Grew up in the sticks.  Never was exposed to the drinking culture so prevalent these days at colleges. Got tanked up. Got her permission.  Permission from an unconscious woman. Telepathic permission.

First, Oakwood, Ohio is not the sticks.  It’s ten minutes drive from Dayton in the state’s southwest corner.

Home prices today range from around $150-thousand to about $700-thousand.  Income is above average.  The school district is ranked #14 in the state and #456 in the country.  This is not a laggard school system.

The town of about 10-thousand is 97% white.

What we know of the victim is she’s 23 years old and not a Stanford student.  That’s it.

Oh, that and that heart-rending and long letter she wrote about how the events affected her life and how she expected them to in the future.

Perfectly fine not to give enough information about a rape victim to identify her.  But there is one thing that could change perspective on the case, given the backgrounds of those involved.

Is this a white on black crime where a white boy committed the assault, and the equally white judge with the shared academic history came down on the side of race.

Eventually, we’ll know.  For now, we don’t.  But we should because it might change the bad perspective. For the worse.

-Trump is what you get when you have too many choices; Hillary is what you get when you have too few.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

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