More on the Turner Case

Stuart and I have an op-ed in the Washington Post discussing the Brock Turner case at Stanford. We argue that the case proves that campus felonies like sexual assault are better handled by the criminal justice system than by campus tribunals—in no small measure because the public can have confidence in the Turner verdict in a way that would have been inconceivable with Stanford’s notoriously one-sided campus disciplinary process. The case thus gives the lie to campus rape groups like Know Your IX and their academic supporters, such as Stanford Law’s Michele Dauber, who have attempted to delegitimize the role of the police in handling campus felonies, at least when the felony is sexual assault.

A few other points from the case that deserve a mention:

(1) The 6-month sentence imposed on Turner (along with a lifetime requirement that he register as a sex offender) has triggered a severe backlash. Given the backlash, as Jason Willick first pointed out, it’s very difficult to comprehend the far more restrained response to the 6-month sentence imposed on former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu. By virtually any measurement, Ukwuachu’s case (which, like Turner’s, also received extensive media attention) was more severe: the nature of his assault appears to have involved more violence; alcohol does not seem to have played any role in his crime; he seemed to have had a pattern of treating women violently; and he had no remarks comparable to Turner’s expression of remorse. Yet there was no national campaign to recall the judge in the Ukwuachu case, nor was his photograph regularly used in social media with a “rapist” theme.

It would be interesting to hear from the accusers’ rights movement, and their media and academic allies, why they responded to the two sentences so differently. (I also agree, by the way, with the inappropriateness of the recall campaign against the judge, though I consider the sentence for Turner—like the sentence for Ukwuachu—too lenient.)

(2) Before the judge issued his sentence, Michele Dauber wrote a letter to the judge demanding that Turner spend more time in jail than what the probation office recommended. Dauber said that she wrote because of her expertise on the issue—without revealing that she had previously disparaged the ability of the same prosecutor’s office that successfully tried Turner to handle campus rape cases.

In her letter, Dauber conceded (correctly) that “the facts here are in some ways especially egregious when compared with many other assaults on campus.” She cited the public nature of the crime, and the fact that Turner and his victim were strangers. Just over a page later, however, Dauber suggested that “at Stanford, assaults that are very similar to this case are unfortunately all too frequent.” [emphasis added] Really? Cases similar to public assaults of strangers are “frequent” at Stanford?

(3) In her letter, Dauber asserted, remarkably, that students who have committed sexual assault at Stanford “typically have participated in athletics.” [emphasis added] She cited no evidence for this claim. Given that the data on which such a claim could be based is confidential, Dauber either: (a) simply misled a judge; or (b) inappropriately revealed protected information. I’d bet on (a).

(4) The Stanford Law professor justified her demand for a lengthier sentence (it’s worth pausing to consider the extraordinary nature of a high-profile left-wing law professor writing a judge to demand a longer sentence for a convicted criminal than what the probation office recommended) by citing deterrence. It’s not clear why potential Stanford rapists would be deterred by seeing a classmate get a three-year sentence (plus lifetime as a sex offender, loss of a degree, loss of ability to compete as an intercollegiate athlete, and massive media exposure as a rapist) but would not be deterred by seeing a classmate get a six-month sentence (plus lifetime as a sex offender, loss of a college degree, loss of ability to compete as an intercollegiate athlete, and massive media exposure as a rapist). Dauber did not explain how she reached her deterrence evaluation.

(5) Dauber concluded by claiming that “Turner will have plenty of opportunity to finish his education.” It’s not clear what academic universe she lives in, but it’s hard to believe (and for very good reason) that many universities will accept a convicted sex criminal who has a lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender. But—much like Jared Polis in his infamous 2015 remarks—it’s critical for figures like Dauber to keep alive the myth that colleges routinely admit students found guilty of sexual assault.

3 thoughts on “More on the Turner Case

  1. Well said. Dauber is contemptible (as well as disgusting). I hope that you will clobber her every time she raises her contemptible head to utter more hate-filled nonsense.

    Stuart

    On Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 2:54 PM, Academic Wonderland wrote:

    > kcjohnson9 posted: “Stuart and I have an op-ed in the Washington Post > discussing the Brock Turner case at Stanford. We argue that the case proves > that campus felonies like sexual assault are better handled by the criminal > justice system than by campus tribunals—in no small m” >

  2. Professor Dauber wrote, “If anything, they suggest that he is entitled to less latitude than someone who was born into poverty, gangs, and drugs and had little choice but to participate in crime in order to survive. Turner had every advantage in life and he squandered it, which only adds insult to society’s injury and the injury of his victim.” I cannot possibly agree with reverse classism. She also wrote, “Turner will be out of prison by the time he is 22. He will have plenty of opportunity to finish his education, put this behind him.” As lifetime registrant on a list of sexual offenders, the notion that he can put this behind him is extremely questionable for reasons that you have put forth. For her to ignore this question is feckless at best, disingenuous at worst.

  3. Professor Joseph Margulies wrote an article on the case that appeared at Newsweek: “Racism, Classism, Feminism … and Brock Turner.” He concluded, “Brock Turner’s sentence exposes two, ugly aspects of American society: White men get a break when they mistreat women, and whites get breaks that people of color do not. But the response to Turner’s sentence threatens to exacerbate one to ameliorate the other. If that is our choice, we should at least be explicit about it.” As someone who admires Professor Margulies’ book, “Guantanamo and the abuse of presidential power,” I was disappointed by this article.

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