Stanford Sexual Assault Case Judge – Sexually Assaulting an Unconscious College Woman Equals 6 Months in Jail

Our nation was collectively shocked and outraged this month when the judge in the sexual assault case of a Stanford swimmer sentenced the perpetrator to only six months in jail plus lifetime registration as a sex offender.  Immediately, the news was widely reported, and as of today, petitions to have the judge removed have garnered more than one million signatures online.

The Facts of the Case

The crime took place around or shortly after midnight on January 18, 2015.  The victim apparently had passed out by an outdoor garbage bin after drinking too much, after which she was sexually assaulted by a Stanford swimmer while she was unconscious.

Police responded to a report of an unconscious and mostly naked female around 1 a.m.  Upon responding to the call, they found the woman unconscious on the ground, and two graduate students nearby who were forcibly detaining the swimmer.  The graduate students apparently had come upon the swimmer either while the sexual assault was still continuing or immediately thereafter.  The swimmer was then arrested and subsequently withdrew from Stanford rather than being expelled.

The Judgment

In March of 2016, the swimmer was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault; specifically sexual assault of an unconscious person, sexual assault of an intoxicated person, and sexual assault with intent to commit rape.  The maximum penalty for these crimes was 14 years in prison and a lifetime of registration as a sexual offender.

However, on June 2, 2016, the offender was sentenced to six months in jail, three years of probation, and lifetime registration as a sexual offender.

In explaining the lenient sentence, the judge said that he believed that more time in jail would have a “severe impact” upon the perpetrator.  Assuming that he exhibits good behavior while incarcerated, the defendant may serve as little as three months in jail.

The Response and More Controversy

Further controversy erupted when three items became public:

  • The judge was also a former Stanford athlete
  • The perpetrator’s father wrote to the court saying, in essence, that a 20 minute lapse in judgement (referring to the crime) should not overwhelm 20 plus years of life
  • In asking for leniency, the perpetrator may have lied about or misrepresented his experience in parties involving drugs and alcohol, claiming that he had little or no prior experience with such types of parties until he enrolled at Stanford and this culture was apparently thrust upon him.

The Victim’s Eloquent Statement

The victim released an eloquent statement describing in graphic detail the treatment that rape and sexual assault victims must endure at the hospital as part of the evidence collection process.  She also described the aftermath of how the rape has affected her, and the continuing effect that it may have on her for the rest of her life.  Her statement has been widely lauded in the press and on the Internet.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Future Campus Rape and Sexual Assault?

All colleges and universities need to take an increased role in preventing sexual violence on campus through increased education that should be mandatory and should take place before the start of freshman classes.  Students need to be told that “no” means “no,” and that taking advantage of a person while they are drunk or on drugs and cannot consent constitutes rape.


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