Culture

A Man Who Served Five Years For A Rape He Didn’t Commit Speaks His Mind On Brock Turner

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Via Getty Image / CBS SF Bay Area on YouTube

The past week has not been a good one for Brock Turner, although the Stanford swimmer received plenty of judicial mercy for someone who raped an unconscious woman next to a dumpster. The internet has certainly ripped him apart, but the guy has little to complain about. Judge Aaron Persky doled out six months in jail, which was all he could stomach for fear of ruining the young man’s life. Turner already felt that he’d be punished forever even as he blamed party culture and alcohol for what he described as a simple lapse of judgment. Turner painted himself as a deer in the headlights of Stanford life and a virtual innocent who was corrupted by booze. He wished to never again experience the taste of alcohol.

Well, some information has surfaced to expose Turner’s lies in the substance-abuse department. CBS News details a prosecutor’s report containing video evidence of Turner smoking bongs a few years before the assault. They dug into his cellphone records and uncovered texts about his love of LSD, drinking, and raging. Ultimately, the records show Turner enjoyed a party lifestyle long before he landed at Stanford. This is a direct contradiction of his act of contrition before the court. His excuse of wanting to fit in and feeling pressured to drink and have sex was already ridiculous. Now it’s clear that he faked a whole lot to impress the judge.

Since two eyewitnesses interrupted Turner’s sexual assault (what his father later called “20 minutes of action”), there was never much doubt that he was guilty of the crime. He still only received a six-month sentence (and will likely see freedom in three months if he behaves). In sharp contrast, a former football player named Brian Banks served five full years for a rape he never committed. Banks, who is black, explained his thoughts on this discrepancy to the New York Daily News in fairly forthright terms:

“You know a man is guilty, so why aren’t we unleashing half of the punishment that was unleashed on Brian Banks when he was innocent and there was no evidence? They gave me six years. They gave him six months.”

Banks was a promising high-school football player (he was briefly signed to the Atlanta Falcons in 2013) when his life was upended in 2002. At 16, his first run-in with the law occurred after he made out with a girl who later alleged that he raped her. Banks resisted pleading guilty but faced the possibility of being tried under an all-white jury and a life sentence. He was eventually tricked into an three-month, in-house observation that was supposed to end in probation. It did not. Instead, a judge handed him a six-year sentence. Banks thinks he knows why Turner was treated in a comparatively favorable manner:

“I would say it’s a case of privilege. It seems like the judge based his decision on lifestyle. He’s lived such a good life and has never experienced anything serious in his life that would prepare him for prison. He was sheltered so much he wouldn’t be able to survive prison. What about the kid who has nothing, he struggles to eat, struggles to get a fair education? What about the kid who has no choice who he is born to and has drug-addicted parents or a non-parent household? Where is the consideration for them when they commit a crime?”

Banks’ accuser reversed her story in 2012 after he served five years in prison. He’ll never get those years back, though he did nothing wrong, whereas Turner irrevocably altered a woman’s life. He complained about losing his Olympic dreams, job opportunities, and a spot at Stanford. Still, his punishment will be quite lenient because the judge felt his individual circumstances dictated as much, whereas Banks said no one in his courtroom would even look at him. He felt like the judge was ordering fast food and zipping away. Quite a difference.

(Via CBS News and New York Daily News)

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