For weeks, the controversial decision now known as the Stanford rape case has spurred a national debate over sexual assault and male privilege in the courtroom. Ohio Jewish News recently turned to prominent legal figures of Ohio, including Attorney Ian Friedman, about the ruling and what it tells us about the current state of our criminal justice system.
Last month, 20-year-old Brock Turner was found guilty of two counts of penetration and one count of assault after he was found attacking an unconscious 22-year-old victim on the Stanford Campus. Turner—who had rape charges against him thrown out—pleaded not guilty and was convicted.
The judge, however, sparked outrage when he ruled for six months of jail probation after the prosecution pursued years of incarceration. The ruling made national headlines-- as did a powerful letter the victim read in court and additional letters that Turners' parents had written to the judge that seemingly did not grasp the seriousness of their son's crime.
"Doesn’t Seem Consistent"
Speaking with Ohio Jewish News, Attorney Friedman made it clear that he shared in the public's surprise over the ruling. "When you hear that a person was found guilty of sexual assault, that there were witnesses that had to chase him down, that he originally lied about it and really didn’t show any great deal of remorse," he said, "and more so he and his family felt that he shouldn’t be judged for what they deemed '20 minutes of action,' that’s a tough argument to swallow, and this judge did." Attorney Friedman refers to the letter from Turner's father, who believed that his son's life should not be permanently altered due to "20 minutes of action."
Attorney Friedman also compared Turner's trial to others he's seen first-hand and felt that the details of the case and the final ruling don't add up. "I can understand why people are upset by this. This is not a case where someone was wrongfully accused... and we know from the young lady’s letter the damage and the trauma that was caused to her as a result," he said. "I think it’s fair to expect that there would be a sentence that includes a major component of prison. It’s an expectation that we have today. When you have all these admissions, the sentence that was doled out doesn’t seem consistent with that expectation."
Along with probation and jail, Turner will have to register as a sex offender for life. Attorney Friedman elaborated what that entails, including monitoring of where he resides by the sheriff's office. His probation will also include electronic monitoring—a measure that Attorney Friedman believes could lead to the type of sentence more people had expected. "I have to assume if he violates any terms of his probation, if he strays off the line even the slightest, it’s more than likely he’s going to prison for a long time," Attorney Friedman added. "He’s on a very short leash."
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