How The Brock Turner Rape Case Appeal Can Effect The Survivor

Here are the facts as we know them.

Brock Turner is seeking to appeal the verdict convicting him of three sexual assault charges. Turner’s lawyers claim that the initial trial was “fundamentally unfair” and are asking for a new trial for the January 2015 assault.

Turner’s legal team filed appeal papers Friday at California’s Sixth District of Appeals. In the appeal, Turner’s lawyers say that the trial was “a detailed and lengthy set of lies” and that intense media scrutiny and other factors impacted Turner’s due process.

The 172-page appeal also focused on the trial’s reiteration that the sexual assault occurred “behind the dumpster,” which “implied an intent on the appellant’s part to shield and sequester his activities” and “implied moral depravity, callousness and culpability on the appellant’s part because of the inherent connotations of filth, garbage, detritus and criminal activity frequently associated with dumpsters.”

The defense instead argues that the sexual assault happened in a “completely open setting,” CNN reports.

“What we are saying that what happened is not a crime,” Turner’s legal adviser John Tompkins told KNTV. “It happened, but it was not anywhere close to a crime.”

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Friday of Turner’s appeal, “Turner received a fair trial and was justly convicted. Nothing can ever roll back (the survivor’s) legacy of raising the world’s awareness about sexual assault.”

Even though Turner was found guilty of three felony sexual assault charges in March 2016, the judge controversially sentenced him to only six months in jail; the prosecution had recommended a six-year sentence. Turner spent only three months behind bars before his early release for good behavior. As part of Turner’s conviction, he must also register as a sex offender every 90 days for the rest of his life.

Impact on the survivor*

The most immediate person affected by sexual violence is the survivor. It impacts their closest relationships as well as impacts their community and our society at large.

We have no idea how “Emily Doe” is adjusting to the new life she has to live as a result of Turner’s assault. Personal style, culture, and context of the survivor’s life may affect their reactions. Some express their emotions while others prefer to keep their feelings inside.

What we do know is that “Emily Doe,” the anonymous survivor of the savage assault by Brock Turner in 2015, released a victim’s impact statement in court. Doe’s stirring words echoed across the globe.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” Doe, 23, said as she addressed Turner in court. “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

Doe’s statement described in blunt and graphic terms the aftermath of her ordeal: how she stood naked in the hospital while nurses held a ruler to abrasions on her body, how she found out the details of her attack by reading a news story one day at work — an article that also listed Turner’s swimming times. And it responded piece by piece to Turner’s defendant statement.

Whether an assault was completed or attempted, and regardless of whether it happened recently or many years ago, it may impact daily functioning for a lifetime. A wide range of reactions can impact survivors. Some common emotional, psychological and physical reactions can include:

  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Embarrassment
  • Fear, distrust
  • Sadness
  • Vulnerability
  • Isolation
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Increased startle response
  • Concerns about physical safety
  • Lack of control
  • Anger
  • Numbness
  • Confusion
  • Shock, disbelief
  • Denial
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use or abuse
  • Phobias
  • Low self esteem
  • Physical injury
  • Concerns about pregnancy or contracting an STI or HIV

Some health outcomes can be fatal such as suicide, homicide, maternal mortality and AIDS related deaths.

The worst part of this whole ordeal is “Emily Doe” will have to relieve it all again. And depending upon the outcome – she’ll have to find a new way to heal.

Where’s the justice in that?