Two tragic cases where innocent women were sexually assaulted on university campuses in the United States by star athletes of the school are strikingly similar in everything aside from the sentencing. Where one who attends Stanford on a swimming scholarship receives 6 months and is of Caucasian decent, the other attended Vanderbilt as a football player of black decent and receives at least 15 years.
Brock Turner recently was in headlines worldwide due to the light sentence passed to the 20-year-old following a conviction of sexual assault against a young woman on the Stanford campus. Cory Batey, 22, was convicted of a 2013 assault that took place in his Vanderbilt dorm room and was sentenced to at least 15 years behind bars.
Although the cases appear similar and beg the question as to why the disparity in sentencing, it reportedly comes down to numbers and how the charge of rape is handled in one state versus another, as Associated Press relays.
“The difference in punishment reflects the number of alleged perpetrators in one case, the acts committed, overwhelming evidence documenting one of the crimes, and variations in how rape is defined in Tennessee and California.”
A Los Angeles defense lawyer and former prosecutor specializing in sex crimes shares the vague disparity between the two cases which ultimately lead to a much lighter sentence in the case of the Stanford perpetrator.
“It does seem like an extreme disparity, but I would say this: With these sex crimes, the facts are very important, the details are very important, and the law punishes the conduct differently depending on what conduct can be proven. In the Stanford case, they did not prove rape.”
The cases have now become the topic of a nationwide debate about sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses as well as the conduct of student athletes. Certain critics say that the cases are too similar for the discrepancy in sentencing to be justified.
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Misee Harris, a blogger who used to live in Tennessee, doesn’t believe that either punishment fit the crime. stating, ” One is just excessive and the other is just a little too lenient.”
Where the cases get tricky to prosecute involves the fact that neither of the victims remembers the events that transpired. Legal experts relay that this puts added weight on the physical evidence. This was far more substantial in the Nashville case than in the Stanford case and is the reason that one was deemed a rape while the other was deemed a sexual assault.
As noted, another reason for the sentencing discrepancy has to do with what each state considers to be rape, as the AP notes.
“Another key distinction involves how the two states view the crime. Juries for both Turner and Batey found that digital penetration took place but did not conclude that sexual intercourse had occurred. Tennessee law considers digital penetration to be rape; California does not.”
When Turner headed to trial in March, the 20-year-old hadn’t even been charged with rape, as Los Angeles attorney Gorin notes.
“They chose not to prove rape because they did not have the evidence for it, according to the records and the press reports. In the Tennessee case, they proved aggravated rape, and the law in the different states punishes the conduct differently.”
The maximum sentence for the crime that Brock Turner was convicted of is 14 years, yet the prosecutor asked for 6 years. However, the judge does not have to adhere to this request and gave a much lighter sentence that has outraged many, as the Atlantic shares. When it comes to a rape conviction, in Tennessee, this carries a sentence of at least 15 years.
[Photo by Santa Clara County Sheriff via AP Images, File]