On Monday, the California legislature unanimously passed a bill that would require prison time for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious victim. Gov. Brown is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
The bill was in response to the nationwide outrage when a Stanford student was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman last June and was then sentenced to six months in jail, a sentence that many felt was too lenient. State prosecutors had asked for a sentence of six years in a state prison, but Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky rejected the recommendation and instead imposed the lighter sentence.
"This bill is about more than sentencing, it’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes." - Assemblyman Bill Dodd
Former Stanford student Brock Turner was convicted of the crime last June. Mr. Turner is scheduled to be released from jail this coming Friday after serving three months of his six-month sentence. His sentence was reduced due to ‘good behavior.’
The bill passed by the legislature would remove the ability of a judge to use their discretion in the sentencing of persons convicted of the crime to probation. If the new law had been in force at the time Mr. Turner was sentenced, he would have served a minimum of three years in prison.
The original sentence caused widespread outrage. Vice President Joe Biden wrote an open letter to the rape victim saying, "while the justice system has spoken in your particular case, the nation is not satisfied."
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber organized an effort to recall Judge Persky, which gathered more than 80,000 signatures. Prof. Dauber said of Judge Persky:
"I think he clearly does not understand violence against women and sex crimes as serious crimes. He treats them like misdemeanors. He seems to have a particular area of bias for collegiate athletes. I think the way this bias operates is he sees these offenders as promising kids who got drunk and made a terrible mistake, rather than as serious felony offenders who are dangerous." - Michele Dauber, Recall Judge Aaron Persky committee
Two years ago, California passed a law that requires “affirmative consent” to sexual relations and stated that consent can’t be given is someone is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent. Nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time." - California Senate Bill 967