By now, anyone with a television or an internet connection has heard about the Stanford rape trial where Brock Turner was given a six month jail sentence for raping the unconscious body of a woman he dragged behind a dumpster. There is obviously no shortage of people who are upset over the punishment which was handed out and for good reason, but not everyone is drawing the same conclusions from it. The fact is that no matter how much you may wish that this cretin had been thrown into a dark cell with the key having been tossed into a river, the system worked as intended and accomplished more than any kangaroo court convened on a college campus ever could. KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. at the Washington Post explain.
Contrary to campus conventional wisdom, the Turner case shows that the best way to deal with a campus sexual assault problem is to rely on law enforcement professionals to protect women and to pursue justice, not on campus disciplinary systems run by amateur sex bureaucrats.
The backlash against Turner’s sentence is being exploited by a powerful but misguided movement to delegitimize law enforcement as the best way to handle campus sexual assaults. The accusers’ rights group Know Your IX has claimed that even reporting an assault to police could harm campus victims. “#copsoffcampus,” the group recently tweeted.
A myth that our universities are mired in an epidemic of sexual violence fuels this movement. Campus activists, the Obama administration and many in the media have used discredited surveys claiming that there are hundreds of thousands of campus sexual assaults annually to degrade due process protections for accused students.
The pitifully short sentence which Turner received for his crimes is not an indictment of the criminal justice system as a whole, but rather the shortcomings of a single judge who was influenced by unknown factors to show leniency toward the felon. Up until the jury spoke, Brock Turner was innocent by definition and, no matter how despicable the crimes he was accused of may be, he was owed a vigorous legal defense before a jury of his peers. He received that and was found guilty by unanimous consent.
Then, when the jury finished their work, the judge had the authority under law to hand down a severe punishment for his crimes. We can debate the decision to go so lightly on him until the cows come home, but Turner still got six months in jail more than any campus committee could ever give him. He is also now a convicted sex offender and that record will follow him (and hopefully be promulgated to the community wherever he lives) for the rest of his life. If this case had been adjudicated in a Stanford lecture hall, he would have been kicked out of school and gotten some bad headlines in the local press, but could have moved on and been far more able to do the same to another woman in another town.
This is how criminal justice is supposed to work, leniency of the sentence aside. A college is not a court of law and confusing the two doesn’t help anyone… particularly not the next victim when you fail to report a felon to the authorities.