The Commercial Appeal
Graduates support rape victim, hit rapist at commencement.
Protest rapist’s short sentence
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Stanford University graduating students and women’s rights advocates used the school’s commencement ceremony to again express their anger over the six-month jail sentence given to a former student for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
A handful of students demonstrated Sunday during “Wacky Walk,” a rambunctious stroll by graduating students dressed in zany costumes that precedes the official graduation events.
One person held a sign that declared “Stanford protects rapists.” Another graduate’s sign was a message to the victim: “You are a warrior.”
Organizers said they wanted to show solidarity to the woman sexually assaulted on campus last year by former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.
“It’s very important to amplify the voice of survivors,” said Brianne Huntsman, a protest organizer.
The victim’s emotional statement to the court about how the assault devastated her life was widely shared online, attracting national attention.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, whose keynote speech called on Republicans to reconsider their endorsement of Donald Trump, closed his address urging sexual assaults be taken seriously.
“If someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted, take it effing seriously and listen to them,” said Burns, who is the father of four girls. “Maybe someday we’ll make the survivor’s eloquent statement as important as Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s letter from the Birmingham jail.”
Turner’s six-months in jail sentence, which also orders him to register as a sex offender for life, touched off an emotional national debate about leniency and campus sexual assault and sparked outrage with critics collecting thousands of signatures to demand trial Judge Aaron Persky be removed from the bench.
Turner, 20, of Oakwood, Ohio, is scheduled to be released from Santa Clara County Jail in September, after completing three months of his sixmonth sentence due to good behavior.