Swedish students who stopped Stanford sex assault say they acted 'on instinct'

Meet the bike-riding Swedish PhD students who came to the aid of a woman who was being sexually assaulted on the Stanford University campus.

'I never thought about it twice and I'm glad I did it,' Carl-Fredrik Arndt says

Carl-Fredrik Arndt, left, and his friend Peter Jonsson, right, were cycling on the Stanford University campus when they came across Brock Turner sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and came to her aid. (Facebook, LinkedIn)

Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt, the bike-riding Swedish PhD students who came to the aid of an unconscious woman being sexually assaulted behind a Stanford University dumpster, have been hailed as heroes by police, the public and the victim herself.

The pair testified at the trial of former Stanford star swimmer Brock Turner, 20, who was found guilty on three felony charges for the attack and sentenced to six months in jail — a punishment legal experts have decried as overly lenient

On Wednesday, one of the young men spoke to several American news outlets about what he and his friend saw the night of Jan. 18, 2015.

The duo were cycling across the California campus after midnight on Jan. 18, 2015, when they say they came across Turner "thrusting" atop a partially clothed woman. 

"It seemed OK at first," Arndt told NBC News. "Then when we looked closer, Peter started noticing — and I later — that she wasn't moving."

The students approached Turner, who Arndt said stood up and left the young woman motionless on the ground.

"We saw she wasn't moving still. So we called him out on it. And the guy ran away, my friend Peter chased after him," Arndt told CBS.

He said Jonsson tackled Turner to the ground, while Arndt tended to the young woman. 

"She was unconscious. The entire time. I checked her and she didn't move at all," Arndt said.​ Turner's attorney had argued in court the woman was awake during the encounter and consented. 

According to police reports obtained by Huffington Post, witnessing the assault was an emotional ordeal for Jonsson, who cried multiple times while giving his testimony to police.

Still, Arndt told NBC that he and his friend did not hesitate to step in.

"I think it happened on instinct for us," he said. "I never thought about it twice and I'm glad I did it."

Duo made case 'prosecutable'

More than a year later, a jury found Turner guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated victim and two charges of digitally penetrating an unconscious and intoxicated victim. The Swedes' witness testimony helped secure that conviction, authorities say. 

Without their intervention, "we wouldn't know who the perpetrator was," Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerc told Huffington Post. "Those two heroes made this case a prosecutable one."

I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story.- Stanford sexual assault victim

Still, the sentence of six months in jail and three years of probation has drawn sharp rebuke from legal experts, the victim and anti-rape advocates. Turner faced a maximum penalty of 14 years behind bars. 

In his ruling, Judge Aaron Persky said he took into consideration Turner's intoxication, letters of support, remorsefulness, clean criminal record and — most controversially — the effect the conviction would have on the one-time Olympic hopeful's life. 

'There are heroes in this story'

Jonsson has declined media interviews, but in a Facebook post, he encouraged people to read the victim's powerful 7,244-word-long courtroom statement.

"To me it is unique in its form and comes as close as you can possibly get to putting words on an experience that words cannot describe," he wrote.

In her statement, the 23-year-old woman describes the hardships she's endured since waking up in a hospital bed after the attack. She also lambastes Turner for failing to take responsibility for his actions and criticizes the judge for giving Turner such a lenient sentence. 

"The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class," she wrote.

But she also took a moment to highlight the actions of the pair who halted the attack.

"Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another."