Stanford University sex attack aftermath sparks outrage

A student walks through the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California.
A student walks through the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The father of a Stanford University student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has come under fire for dismissing the crime as "20 minutes of action".

The judge who oversaw the case in California, Judge Aaron Persky, has also sparked outrage for sentencing Brock Allen Turner to six months in prison and probation for the assault, saying that he feared a stiffer jail term would have "a severe impact" on Turner.

The 20-year-old student from Ohio had faced up to 14 years in prison for the January 2015 assault but is now expected to serve only three months of his six-month sentence in a county jail.

His father said in a public statement at the sentencing hearing last week that Turner did not deserve to go to jail.

"(Brock) will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile," Mr Dan Turner told the court in his statement made public on Monday (June 6). "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."

The judge justified his lenient sentence saying Turner had shown "genuine feelings of remorse" and that the former swimmer did not pose a danger to society.

Details of the case went viral on social media over the weekend after the victim's emotional impact statement to the court was released by the prosecutor, with many denouncing the sentence as a slap on the wrist.

In her statement, the woman described how the attack had left her emotionally scarred and "not want (her) body anymore". She recounted waking up in a hospital bed in San Jose, California, on the morning of Jan 18, 2015 without any recollection of what had happened and described the invasive exam she underwent to collect evidence.

She also challenged Turner's own statement to the court in which he said "I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life".

"Ruin a life, one life, yours. You forgot about mine," she told the court, turning to face her attacker.

"Let me rephrase for you: I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect."

She also challenged Turner's account that she was conscious and willing during the assault which took place outside a fraternity party.

Turner was convicted in March of three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.

The case has put the spotlight on rape at US college campuses where, according to one study, more than one in every six women are raped during their first year at university while too drunk or drugged to be able to fend off their attacker.