On Thursday morning, Texas Rep. Ted Poe took the House floor on Capitol Hill and after reading large sections of the letter written by the Stanford rape victim, announced that it is his intention to fight against the “pathetic” sentence that was handed to the sexual assailant. Poe says that he will demand that a court of appeals overturn the Brock Turner sentence and remove the judge who oversaw the case.
Poe, R-Humble, made it very clear that he believes that when Judge Aaron Persky of the Santa Clara County Superior Court handed Brock Turner a sentence of just six months in prison with three years’ probation after being convicted of three counts of sexual assault last week, he “got it wrong.” When giving the sentence Judge Persky said that the six months in county jail was appropriate as he did not want a longer term in prison to “severely impact” the college swimmer’s life and the path to the Olympics that he was said to have been on. Congressman Poe was clear in his disdain for the entire ordeal.
Bravo. Republican Congressman Demanded The Court Overturn Stanford Sexual Assailant’s “Pathetic” Sentence https://t.co/FYTUTLUSUi
— Ashly Perez (@itsashlyperez) June 9, 2016
“The judge should be removed and the rapist should do more time for the dastardly deed. I hope the appeals court… overturns the pathetic sentence and gives him the punishment he deserves.”
The ‘Stanford rapist’ in question is a 20-year-old swimmer who arrived at Stanford on a scholarship. Back in March, Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the college campus. The story of his light sentence has been making headlines across the country and on Friday, BuzzFeed News published the full letter which the victim wrote her attacker and used as her statement in court. The letter that the unidentified 23-year-old victim wrote decried the privilege that the Stanford rapist was granted because he is an athlete, saying that “how fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment.”
On Monday, the full letter to the Stanford rapist was read on air by CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield, gaining even more widespread attention to what many are calling injustice due to the blatant rape culture that is being fostered across the country.
Representative Poe argues, in his speech to the House, that Judge Persky’s words about not wanting to impact too severely the future of the alleged rapist makes very little sense.
“Well isn’t that the point? The punishment for rape should be longer than a semester in college.”
According to the Texas Tribune, Congressman Poe spent 30 years of his career in Houston as a a prosecutor and judge prior to running for Congress and has no qualms about expressing his outrage over the light sentence. In the past, Poe has himself worked with victims of sexual assault, currently chairs the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus and has been a key figure in helping Texas to pass registration of sex offenders. He believes that the people of California should be working to fire judge Persky and “supports any and all efforts to do this.”
The outrage that the judge’s words and sentence has brought out in many has resulted in several petitions (on change.org petition, moveon.org and the White House’s We the People site) to oust Judge Persky, each signed by hundreds of thousands of persons, though it is unprecedented that he would actually be removed. Some persons have even gone so far as to leave threatening messages for Judge Persky at the courthouse.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) June 9, 2016
Congressman Poe also stated that, as a grandfather to 11, he has hopes that his granddaughters can grow up in a society that displays a zero tolerance attitude for such acts, no matter what the social status of the assailant is. He also spoke against the culture surrounding the Stanford rapist and those that defend him.
“There’s an archaic philosophy in some courts that sin ain’t sin as long as good folk do it. As a country, we must change our mentality and make sure that our young people recognize sexual assault and rape for the heinous crimes that they are. Rape is never the fault of the victim. And that’s just the way it is… No means no.”
Buzzfeed News advised that Brock Turner has appealed his case, even soliciting funds to help him. It is a move that Poe is glad for as he hopes that now the courts will be granted an opportunity to give the “arrogant defendant” and former Stanford swimmer the harsher sentence which he deserves.
[Photo by Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office/AP Images]