Brock Turner: what's next for the Stanford swimmer freed after three months in jail for sexual assault?

The 21-year-old intends to return to his family home near Dayton, Ohio, where he will have to register as a sex offender for life

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The Independent US

Brock Turner, the 21-year-old man sentenced to six months for the January 2015 sexual assault of an unconscious woman at Stanford University, was released from jail early on Friday morning after serving just half of his controversially brief sentence.

Turner, formerly a student at the California university and an aspiring Olympic swimmer, had claimed in court that his victim consented to their encounter. The jury disagree and convicted him on three sexual assault counts, including digital penetration of an unconscious woman.

But the case generated widespread outrage after Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky handed down his lenient sentence, citing Turner’s youth and clean record in a ruling many saw as pandering to Turner’s wealth and privilege – and as ignoring the seriousness of college rape.

What happens to Turner now?

Turner left Santa Clara County Jail at dawn on Friday in a rented SUV, which took him to the local hotel where he planned to stay briefly with his parents before the family returns to their home in Ohio. He is expected to live with his mother and father, at least for the time being, in the house near Dayton where he grew up.

The authorities in Ohio will take over monitoring the 21-year-old as he serves out three years of supervised probation. During that period he must regularly report to a probation officer, attend substance abuse counselling and avoid alcohol and drugs.

 

He will be subjected to random drug and alcohol tests, and sheriff’s deputies in Greene County, Ohio, can also visit his home at any time to check he has not moved without informing the authorities. Turner has also been ordered to pay restitution to his victim, the amount of which has yet to be determined.

His lawyer has said he plans to appeal his conviction but, in the meantime, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer told the Associated Press that Turner had five days in which to register with his office as a sex offender, and will remain on the sex offenders registry for life.

What does being a registered sex offender entail?

Fischer said Turner would be “treated no differently than any other sex offender,” which means he cannot work with children or live close to places where children gather, such as parks, schools or playgrounds. He can’t leave Ohio without telling the authorities first.

He will have to take a sex-offender counselling course, which could last up to three years. He must take polygraph tests whenever officials demand one.

Turner’s neighbours will receive postcards from the sheriff’s office to inform them that a sex offender is living nearby, and his name, address and photo will remain publicly available on the state’s online sex offender registry.

I bet Judge Persky is unpopular.

He sure is. Following Turner’s release on Friday, demonstrators gathered outside the San Jose jail to demand Persky be recalled from the bench. The protest group UltraViolet has said it will try to collect sufficient signatures to decide the judge’s fate at the ballot box next year.

Persky has defended his record in an online post on a website set up to support him, Retain Judge Persky. “I have a reputation for being fair to both sides,” he insisted.

All the same, he has said he will voluntarily cease hearing criminal cases.

Isn’t it remarkable that he could get away with giving Turner such a brief sentence?

That’s what state politicians thought, too. On Monday, the California Assembly voted unanimously to create mandatory prison terms for crimes like Turners.

Until now, anyone convicted of rape using additional physical force must serve time in prison, but Turner benefited from a loophole excluding those who sexually assaulted unconscious or heavily intoxicated victims from mandatory incarceration. The new measure, Assembly Bill 2888, was inspired by the Turner case and would make sure such crimes were also punished with prison time.

California Governor Jerry Brown has not yet indicated whether he will sign or veto the bill before the deadline of 30 September.

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