Sexual assault needs to stop

Sophia Furlani, Staff Writer

Why is it that people charged with rape or sexual assault offences get minimal, if any time in jail?

People v. Turner was a criminal case filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court which convicted Brock Allen Turner of  five charges: two for rape, two for felony sexual assault, and one for attempted rape all on an intoxicated woman. He was a college athlete convicted of first-time sexual offense.

After reviewing the results of DNA tests, the two rape charges were dropped by prosecutors, since there was no evidence of sexual penetration to the girls. He was only then convicted of the three remaining charges of felony sexual assault.

These convictions carried a potential sentence of 14 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended six years in prison while probation officials recommended a “moderate” county jail sentence.

On June 2, 2016, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to only six months confinement in the Santa Clara County jail to be followed by three years of probation. He also would be a registered sex offender.

This case was very popular because many people believed it wasn’t fair that he only got six months in jail. Sadly this is not uncommon.

Many people that have sexually assaulted woman get little to no jail time.

Another case that happened close by was high school graduate David Becker, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He was charged with sexually assaulting two of his classmates when they fell asleep after a house party.

Palmer District Court judge Thomas Estes decided to let Becker’s case continue without finding, essentially granting him two years probation instead of a prison sentence.

In the end, he didn’t even have to register as a sex offender.

These are only two examples of rapists not getting punished for their crimes, there are plenty more.

Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals.

Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.

The reasons victims made for not reporting are shocking.

  • 20% feared retaliation
  • 13% believed the police would not do anything to help
  • 13% believed it was a personal matter
  • 8% reported to a different official
  • 8% believed it was not important enough to report
  • 7% did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble
  • 2% believed the police could not do anything to help
  • 30% gave another reason, or did not cite one reason

About half of these reasons have to do with these victims believing there would be negative effects of reporting what happened to them.

This needs to change.

Rape and sexual harassment is a serious crime, but doesn’t seem to be treated like one.  One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  A lot of controversy about sexual assault is how the victim was dressed. Saying that they were “asking for it”

“Was she dressed like she was asking for it?”

“Did she maybe unintentionally signal that she was asking for it by being alone with them?”

These questions are frequently brought up when talking about a rape situation. This is obviously a horrible way of thinking that needs fixing.

But for the one in every seven victims under the age of six especially, would these questions apply? No.

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual. For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one “asks for” or deserves this type of attack.

Some people surprisingly don’t realize that men can be victims of sexual assault as well. One in six men will be victims of sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Being a victim of sexual violence does not make a man less “manly” and does not have implications for his sexual orientation.

There are plenty of female rape victims that are hesitant to speak out, but not to mention the male victims as well. Many feel additional feelings of shame and doubt—that they should have been able to fight off their attackers in the situations.

The potential backlash that these victims face is something that we need to prevent. No one should be scared report a crime done to themself.

In eight out of ten rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. A lot of sexual assault cases happen within a relationship and ties in with domestic violence.

Sadly, sexual assault can also happen with family members. And in most times with this scenario victims are especially hesitant to speak out and it can continue to happen.

We can’t do much to stop these acts from happening, but we can offer support to the victims and get the horrible people committing these acts in trouble.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual assault please call 1-800-656-4673

You can also talk to an adult you trust like a teacher or family member.