An attorney for convicted rapist Brock Turner tried to convince a California appellate court to overturn the athlete's sentence on grounds that he only wanted to have "sexual outercourse" with his unconscious, intoxicated victim and never "intended" to rape her.
Turner's name was etched into the history books after Judge Aaron Persky gave him a mere six-month sentence even though he was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault after attacking an unknown woman, referred to in the case as Jane Doe, next to a dumpster. He ended up only serving three months in jail and was required to register as a sexual offender for life.
In December, the former star athlete — whose life was "ruined" but not as much as the woman he attacked — applied for an appeal. His lawyers argued then that the initial trial was “a detailed and lengthy set of lies.” (Or as Turner's tone-deaf father said in 2016, his son was prosecuted over "20 minutes of action.")
Now, his attorney Eric Multhaup is trying to overturn one specific count: attempted rape. On Tuesday, he argued before three judges at the California’s 6th District Court of Appeal that Turner was just interested in having "outercourse" — i.e. sexual contact while fully clothed — with "Jane Doe" and that he didn't want to sexually assault her. He went as far as calling "sexual outercourse" a version of "safe sex."
Assistant Attorney General Alisha Carlile slammed Multhaup's argument, calling it a "far-fetched version of events." After all, two graduate students saw Turner “thrusting his hips atop an unconscious woman lying on the ground” near a dumpster at the Stanford University campus. Jane Doe was half-naked and unconscious during the attack. When she woke up at the hospital, she said her hands and arms were bloody and there were abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in her genitalia.
Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, condemned the approach of Turner's attorney because it's damaging to survivors of sexual assault.
"In this case, seems that arguing about whether the criminal intent was there or whether penetration was there is missing the point that you have eyewitnesses who testified to observing the assault of an unconscious person in a sexual manner," she told Refinery29. "It's traumatising and damaging no matter how you try to dissect that."
She added: "This in an attempt to depersonalise and sanitise what was observed being done to this young woman. To call something a version of 'safe sex' — there's nothing safe at all about being unconscious and dragged to a location out of sight from other people and being sexually assaulted."
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.