- Brock Turner, who last year was found guilty of sexual assault and served a three-month sentence, is appealing his conviction.
- Turner’s lawyers argued in their appeal filed Friday that the initial trial was “a detailed and lengthy set of lies.”
- They are also hoping to overturn the lifetime requirement that Turner register as a sex offender.
- Turner’s case became a flashpoint in the debate on campus sexual assault after an impassioned victim impact statement from the accuser went viral.
Brock Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer found guilty of sexual assault in California, has appealed his conviction after serving a sentence that many condemned as an example of how the justice system fails to take such crimes seriously enough.
Turner, then 19, was arrested in 2015 after two of his fellow students at the Northern California university saw him outside of a fraternity house on top of an unconscious woman. He was convicted of sexual assault the following year.
Turner’s lawyer, Eric Multhaup, said in papers filed on Friday in a California appeals court that the initial trial was “a detailed and lengthy set of lies.” He argued that a prosecutor in the trial incorrectly told jurors the sexual assault occurred behind a trash bin.
The woman Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting, was found near a garbage enclosure but not behind a trash bin, according to Turner’s appeal. Multhaup said that implying otherwise gave the impression Turner tried to hide his activities with the woman.
Turner’s case first shot into national and international prominence after an impassioned victim impact statement from his victim, known only as Emily Doe, went viral.
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” Doe read in court. “The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”
The case prompted outrage after Turner was given a six-month sentence, of which he was released three months early for good behavior. He had to register as a sex offender in his home state of Ohio last year, after leaving Stanford.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was vilified over the sentence, which critics argued was too lenient and demonstrated bias toward Turner, who as a white, male former student-athlete at Stanford shared a similar background to him. Persky faces a recall effort over the sentence.
Turner could face a longer prison sentence if convicted again
The appeal comes as a surprise because political leaders, local residents and social media users had criticized Turner’s sentence as too lenient, rather than too harsh.
The 172-page appeal requests that the conviction be overturned and that Turner receive a new trial. His lawyers are also hoping to overturn the lifetime requirement that Turner register as a sex offender.
But if Turner is convicted again, he could face a longer prison sentence.
In an email, Multhaup declined to comment beyond the court filing.
“Brock Turner received a fair trial and was justly convicted,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen told the San Jose Mercury News. “His conviction will be upheld.”
Turner’s appeal also took aim at Persky, saying he erred by not instructing jurors to consider charges less serious than sexual assault and by not allowing testimony from character witnesses.
A representative for Persky could not be reached for comment.
Persky, in a statement on a website to fight the recall effort, said in his former career as a prosecutor he saw how sexual assault could destroy victims’ lives.
“When I became a judge, my role changed — I am required to consider both sides,” Persky said in the statement. “California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders.”
In response to the Turner case, California lawmakers last year passed legislation to broaden the state’s legal definition of rape and mandate prison if the victim was unconscious.