Legislation In Response To Stanford Rape Case Verdict Passes Legislature

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bill Closes Loophole in Sentencing of Sexual Assault Crimes

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 2888, by State Legislators Asm. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Asm. Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara) passed the State Assembly today by a unanimous 66-0 vote, and goes on to Governor Brown.  AB 2888 is in response to the shockingly lenient sentence given to Brock Turner by Judge Aaron Persky in the recent Stanford rape case.  The bill will ensure that anyone convicted of sexual assault in California cannot be sentenced to probation.  The legislators worked with Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen in crafting the proposal. 

“Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that. Letting felons convicted of such crimes get off with probation discourages other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal,” said Assemblymember Bill Dodd. “This bill is about more than sentencing, it’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes. I urge Governor Brown to join the legislature in standing with victims and building a culture that suppresses these reprehensible crimes.”

Under current law, not all forms of sexual assault involving penetration are included in the list of offenses that would trigger a mandatory denial of probation.  Current law clarifies that a defendant’s use of force triggers a mandatory prison sentence. However, when a victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated, the victim is unable to resist, and the perpetrator does not have to use force.

For example, a perpetrator at a college party who chooses to forcibly rape a conscious victim will go to prison. However, a different perpetrator at the same party who chooses to watch and wait for a victim to pass out from intoxication before sexually assaulting her may get probation.

“Rape is Rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist,” said Assemblymember Evan Low.  “Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion.  Current law actually incentivizes rapists to get their victims intoxicated before assaulting them.  While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.” 
"We thank Evan Low, Bill Dodd, Jerry Hill, and Governor Brown for helping make California safer for women today. Mostly, we thank Emily Doe for her courageous letter. It gave all of us the inspiration to make sure the next Brock Turner either leaves the next Emily Doe alone, or the next Brock Turner goes to prison," said Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen. 

In March 2015, Brock Turner, a Stanford University student was convicted on 3 felony counts of sexual assault of an intoxicated and unconscious woman. Despite the fact that the defendant was eligible for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced the defendant to 6 months in jail and 3 years’ probation. The sentence has been justifiably criticized by many as unethically lenient, given the horrific nature of the crime

Assemblymember Bill Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, and Colusa Counties. You can learn more about Assemblymember Dodd and the district at www.asm.ca.gov/dodd.