Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who served a widely criticized six-month jail sentence for assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, is now appealing his conviction and asking for a new trial.
Turner filed a 172-page brief Friday arguing that the prosecutor incorrectly told jurors during the trial that the sexual assault happened behind a dumpster – and that doing so amounted to prosecutorial misconduct, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The latest development comes more than a year after Turner was released from jail, where he served only half of his sentence because of good behavior. Turner, once a record-setting swimming prodigy, was 20 when jurors convicted him last year.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky drew widespread condemnation when he sentenced Turner to six months in jail, three years of probation and a requirement to register as a sex offender. Prosecutors asked for six years in prison.
In his appeal, Turner argued that contrary to what Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci repeatedly told jurors, the sexual assault happened near a three-sided trash bin, but not behind it, according to the Mercury News. Saying the assault happened behind the dumpster is “prejudicial” and implied that Turner was trying to hide what he was doing.
He also argued that Persky deprived him of a fair trial when he did not instruct jurors to consider lesser criminal charges before they began deliberating and excluded testimony from character witnesses.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement to the Mercury News that Turner received a fair trial and was justly convicted.
“His conviction will be upheld. Nothing can ever roll back Emily Doe’s legacy of raising the world’s awareness about sexual assault,” Rosen said, referring to the name the victim was referred to throughout the trial.
Turner risks a second conviction by asking for another trial, which, if granted by California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal, would be presided over by another judge.
Turner was convicted in March 2016 of three felonies, including assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. The assault happened during a frat party in the early hours of Jan. 18, 2015, when witnesses saw Turner lying on top of a half-naked, unconscious woman.
The victim didn’t wake up until three hours later and had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal driving limit.
Her powerfully written statement about the assault moved many.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why you’re here today,” she said, addressing Turner.
Her words caught the attention of then-Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote an open letter to her: “I do not know your name – but your words are forever seared on my soul. Words that should be required reading for men and women of all ages. Words that I wish with all of my heart you never had to write.”
Turner was sentenced in summer 2016. Soon after he was sentenced, an independent agency that investigates and disciplines judges was inundated with complaints about Persky. Many thought he was unfair to the victim, that he did not take the crime seriously and, as a former student athlete at Stanford himself, showed bias toward Turner.
The Commission on Judicial Performance later cleared Persky of judicial misconduct, finding that there’s no “clear and convincing evidence of bias or abuse of authority” and that the sentence imposed on Turner was “within the parameters set by law.”
Turner’s sentence also resulted in a push to recall Persky.
The judge broke his silence earlier this year, explaining his sentence in a 198-word statement.
“As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims. As a judge, my role is to consider both sides. California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders. It’s not always popular, but it’s the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor.”
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