U.S. Rep. Ted Poe took to the House floor on Thursday to denounce the “pathetic” sentencing of Stanford sexual assailant Brock Turner and to demand the removal of the judge who oversaw the case.
Poe, R-Humble, said Judge Aaron Persky of the Santa Clara County Superior Court “got it wrong” when he sentenced Turner to six months in prison and three years' probation.
“The judge should be removed and the rapist should do more time for the dastardly deed,” Poe said. “I hope the appeals court ... overturns the pathetic sentence and gives him the punishment he deserves.”
Turner, a 20-year-old swimmer on scholarship at Stanford, was found guilty in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. The case recently gained national attention when BuzzFeed published the full courtroom statement made by the woman who was attacked. The statement decries the privilege Turner received as an athlete.
“How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment,” the unidentified 23-year-old woman said.
Persky said he chose not to impose a harsher punishment because “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on [Turner].”
“Well isn’t that the point?” Poe said in his speech to the House. “The punishment for rape should be longer than a semester in college.”
Poe, who was a prosecutor and judge in Houston for 30 years before running for Congress, joined a chorus of voices that have expressed outrage over the sentence. Some people have even left threatening messages for Persky at the courthouse.
Poe read significant portions of the victim’s statement aloud on Thursday to emphasize the devastating effects of rape. As a grandfather of 11, he said he hopes his granddaughters grow up in a society that has zero tolerance for such acts, regardless of the assailant’s social status.
“There’s an archaic philosophy in some courts that sin ain’t sin as long as good folk do it,” Poe said. “In this case, the court and the defendant’s father wanted a pass for the rapist because he was a big-shot swimmer.”
Rather than defending and excusing the actions of sex offenders like Turner, the justice system needs to fight for the victims, Poe said. He rebuked Turner's father for saying six months in jail was a "steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action."
“The entitlement mentality, being a good college athlete and self righteousness do not trump justice,” Poe said. “Rape is never the fault of the victim. And that’s just the way it is.”