A New Court Transcript Reveals the Reasoning Behind Brock Turner's Sentence


In a court transcript obtained by the Guardian, Judge Aaron Persky — who earlier this month sentenced former Stanford student Brock Turner to just six months in county jail for three felony sexual assault counts, of which he will only serve three months — explains his logic behind the short sentencing.

Though the judge received dozens of letters from Turner's family and friends pleading for leniency, according to the news outlet, Persky appeared to be particularly struck by the words of Turner's elementary school classmate, Leslie Rasmussen. A drummer in the band the Good English, whose shows in Brooklyn were canceled because of her letter, Rasmussen had written, "If I had to choose one kid I graduated with to be in the position Brock is, it would never have been him."

According to the transcript, Persky said the letter just "rings true" and "corroborates" the other defenses of Turner's character up until the night of the assault. 

Eric Risberg/AP

Persky went on to say that while Turner's intoxication at the time of the assault doesn't completely erase blame, it should hold "some weight" in a ruling.

"Some weight should be given to the fact that a defendant who is, albeit voluntarily, intoxicated versus a defendant who commits an assault with intent to commit rape, a completely sober defendant," the Guardian reported him as stating. 

"There is less moral culpability attached to the defendant who is legally intoxicated," Perksy continued. "That's a comparative measure. But I don't attach very much weight to that."

Persky's opinions on the role of Turner's intoxication echo Turner's own statement, in which he blamed "binge drinking" and "party culture" for his behavior. 

"There is less moral culpability attached to the defendant who is legally intoxicated."

Persky also doubled down on his apparent concern for the "severe impact" prison could have on Turner in the transcript, stating that the acute media attention he's received has been its own punishment. "Where, in certain cases, there is no publicity, then the collateral consequence of those on the defendant's life can be minimized," said Persky. "And so here, we have, I think, significant collateral consequences that have to be considered."

There have been multiple efforts to recall Persky following his sentencing of Turner, and on Monday Palo Alto Online reported on a letter a juror sent to Persky contesting his decision.

The juror wrote, "With the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape."