After serving just three months, convicted sex offender Brock Turner was released this morning (Friday, September 2) from the Santa Clara jail, to the dismay of virtually everyone.
Turner's untimely release is salt in the very fresh wounds of this devastating case. It's been less than two years since he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman outside a frat party — and a matter of months since we heard her powerful voice for the first time.
There's been no time for the victim to heal, or for justice to be delivered — but as of today, Brock Turner is a free man.
From this day forward, Turner will face a series of rude awakenings. For one, the world no longer sees him as an Ivy League student or a swimmer — they see him as a rapist.
But for many, that isn't enough.
Millions have also signed a Change petition to oust Aaron Persky, who handed down the "wrist slap" of a six-month sentencing. In the months since Turner was incarcerated, Persky has recused himself from sex crimes cases — an important victory for survivors.
Yet over the last few months, Brock Turner's former school, Stanford University, has done little to show it's serious about preventing future incidences of sexual assault on campus. Instead, it's banned hard liquor and instructed female students to monitor their alcohol consumption.
Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law professor, refuses to accept the school's silence, and its utter inability to adequately address rape culture on campus. Dauber, who currently serves as committee chair of Recall Persky, says she won't stop until justice is served — and Aaron Persky is off the bench.
Revelist spoke to Dauber the night before Turner's release about what has yet to change since the 90 days Brock Turner spent in jail.
Revelist: Can you tell me a bit about what you’ve been doing since Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail? How have you been helping to lead the charge against Judge Aaron Persky?
Michele Dauber: We opened the recall campaign by registering the Committee to Recall Judge Persky with the FPPC in California and organizing ourselves as a legally-compliant registered election committee. We have begun on two fronts. First, we are researching the judge's record and sharing it with voters, and second we are fundraising to run a difficult and expensive contested election.
Revelist: Are you familiar with Judge Aaron Persky's new web site? Do you think it's a sign he's afraid he's going to lose his job?
MD: I think it is a sign that we are in the midst of a contested election and I welcome the start of the campaign and the opportunity to speak with voters about the judge's record.I am confident when voters are familiar with the facts about the judge's record they will opt in favor of another candidate.
Revelist: I recently reported on Stanford’s changes to its drinking policies (i.e. banning hard liquor on campus). Reps from the university told me the new policy has nothing to do with Brock Turner. Do you think that’s truly the case?
Revelist: Do you think the university has done enough to prevent future instances of sexual assault?
No. Stanford has much more work to do.
I am guardedly optimistic that the new president will turn the university in a more constructive direction. I have already seen some encouraging signs and he has only been here one day.
First, someone I have a long and positive experience with, Lauren Schoenthaler, has just been given the job heading the entire Title IX office. I believe that she is committed to positive change.
Of course, one person can only do so much if they don't have the support of the administration.
It remains to be seen whether the Stanford administration can become a leader in this area. So far it has not been but I am hopeful that new leadership can make better choices. I see some positive signs already.
Revelist: This summer, we’ve seen so many men like Turner (that is, young and white), get lenient sentences for sexual assault cases. What do you think this says about our judicial system?
MD: We have a legal system that isn't autonomous from larger social forces like sexism and racism. We know that.
Some judges, like Judge Persky (and the others you reference) have the biases themselves that we see reflected in the larger society. That isn't particularly shocking but it is totally unacceptable.
Where we see biases that are as extreme as they are in this case, they signal a real problem for the legal system.
A judge who does not take violence against women seriously — and fails to treat it as a serious crime — has no business on the bench.
He isn't able to fairly adjudicate because his biases infect his decision-making. Over time, bias is corrosive of the legitimacy of the legal system. When people feel that decision makers are biased against them they lose hope and trust in the system.
Revelist: What do you hope people in positions of judicial power learn from the Brock Turner case?
MD: I hope that jurisdictions decide to take training in sexual assault and domestic violence for judges mandatory. I would like California to pass a law and I would like other jurisdictions to follow suit.
We cannot allow this level of ignorance manifested by Judge Persky (for example when he allowed a serious domestic violence perpetrator to move to Hawaii to play football without even giving him probation) go unaddressed and unanswered.
Revelist: What do you hope ordinary young men across the country learn from the Brock Turner case?
MD: The rules apply to you. No matter how privileged you are, how good at a sport, how smart or lucky — the rules apply to you.
If you commit a crime you will be treated like everyone else. Unfortunately in order to deliver that message we are required to recall the judge who undermined it, which is a shame.
Revelist: Do you have any future plans in your campaign against Aaron Persky and sexual assault on campus?
MD: We are just going to carry forward the campaign until he is no longer a judge or until the voters speak.
Revelist: Do you think the Brock Turner case has helped regular Americans understand rape culture more? Why or why not?
MD: Yes, because of the amazing letter from the survivor.
Revelist: What do you think the impact of Turner's victim's letter had on this case?
MD: I think it is the single most important piece of political writing perhaps in decades.
Revelist reached out to judge Aaron Persky for comment, but was told he is "not speaking to reporters."