A former Stanford University swimmer was sentenced to six months in jail on Thursday for a 2015 sexual assault, but the young man's father still believes the punishment is too severe.
The father — along with the judge who issued the ruling — is facing criticism by some who say he is defending a culture that fosters rape. What's most raised critics' ire is a line in the father's letter regarding the amount of time the sex assault took.
Just "20 minutes of action" should not justify a stint in jail, Dan Turner wrote in a letter to the court asking that his son, Brock Allen Turner, get probation instead of time behind bars.
An outraged Stanford professor tweeted the letter, which has gone viral on social media after it was picked up by the Huffington Post. The court documents were also obtained by NBC News.
The father's statement asks for sympathy and highlights his son's lack of a criminal record, arguing that probation is a more appropriate punishment for him than incarceration.
"He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile," Turner said of his son. "These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life."
Dan Turner told the Huffington Post on Monday that he did not mean to offend or be disrespectful in his letter to the judge.
“My words have been misinterpreted by people,” he said in a statement submitted through his son’s defense attorney to The Huffington Post. “I was not referring to sexual activity by the word ‘action.’ It was an unfortunate choice of words.”
The victim, who is not being identified because she was the victim of sexual assault, presented her own emotional and graphic account of the ordeal to the courtroom during sentencing. Her letter was 12 pages long.
"Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment," she wrote in the letter, later released by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. "My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today."
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky imposed the six-month sentence, saying "a prison sentence would have a severe impact" on Turner.
That opinion that has since sparked a petition demanding the judge be removed from the bench. The petition had 45,400 supporters as of Monday morning.
Prosecutors had hoped for a much harsher sentence. District Attorney Jeff Rosen called woman's assault extremely serious. But he stopped short of calling for Persky's ouster in a statement released Monday. He said he was glad the woman was able to get her point across in her eloquent speech and give "voice to thousands of sexual assault survivors."
All of the debate stems from the sexual assault on Jan. 18, 2015, when the woman and Turner attended a fraternity party. After drinking four shot glasses of whiskey before heading out for the party and continuing to consume vodka at the frat house, the next thing the woman remembered was waking up at a nearby hospital and being told by a deputy that she had been the victim of a sexual assault.
Convicted of three felonies, Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and could be out in about three months, at which time he must complete three years of probation.