On January 18, 2015, 19-year-old student Brock Turner, an elite Stanford student and swimmer, was arrested after he was discovered on top of an intoxicated ,half-nude female student outside a campus fraternity party. Two men on bicycles witnessed a man on top of the unconscious woman, chased after him and held him down until police arrived.
Campus rape is on the rise, or at least the amount of publicity and the public allegations against fraternities seems to indicate so. Universities are still recovering from the UVA scandal regarding an 18-year-old student who was allegedly gang-raped at a fraternity. The scandal has rocked the University so hard that it has decided to part ways with fraternities.
As a result, it isn’t surprising that when Stanford was faced with a similar type of situation, it acted quick and harsh. Brock Turner “voluntarily” withdrew from the University, although he may have been threatened with being expelled, he was barred from campus and will not be allowed to re-enroll, and he faces being placed on the USA Swimming Banned for Life list because of his arrest in a sex felony. But wait, since when did “arrest” become “conviction”? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? due process?
Granted, it seems almost clear from the two “witnesses” that rape did in fact occur. But what if they are lying? What if it was staged as a revenge plot against the accused? Rolling Stones recently reported that the story told by the victim in the UVA gang rape story has a few holes and not everything coincides as she had originally reported. That doesn’t mean that she is lying, but she could be. And that is the point of a trial..to discover the truth.
Like the case with Brock Turner, he deserves his right to a speedy trial by a jury of his peers to review the evidence and come to their own conclusions. But until then, he is innocent. If Brock Turner is in fact found not guilty, the tragedy would be that no amount of money could bring him “whole” again, and his reputation and his academic future is most likely ruined.
As family law attorneys, we see both sides of the story, the rape victim, and the falsely accused. We have had complaining witnesses lie through their teeth just to “get even”. While rape as a crime should be strongly punished, to do so prematurely, and perhaps wrongly, is to ruin someone’s life entirely.