Court rejects appeal of Brock Turner against sexual assault conviction

​A California court has rejected an appeal by a former Stanford University swimmer who was found guilty of sexual assault and served a sentence that many say was too lenient.

Former Stanford University swimmer served sentence many said was too lenient

Brock Turner, then 19, was arrested in 2015 after two fellow students at Stanford University saw him outside a fraternity house on top of an unconscious woman. (Greene County Sheriff's Office via AP)

​A California court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by a former Stanford University swimmer who was found guilty of sexual assault and served a sentence that many say was too lenient.

Brock Turner, then 19, was arrested in 2015 after two fellow students at the Northern California university saw him outside a fraternity house on top of an unconscious woman.

He was convicted of sexual assault the following year and sentenced to six months, a sentence criticized as too lenient by political leaders, residents and social media users.

Turner was released early for good behaviour after serving three months.

Registered sex offender

He had to register as a sex offender in his home state of Ohio, after leaving Stanford.

In December, Turner appealed, asking for the conviction to be overturned or a new trial, based on a lack of sufficient evidence.

Judge Franklin Elia, writing for the unanimous panel, said there was "substantial evidence" to support conviction of all three charges. In particular, the judge pointed out that Turner tried to run from two graduate students who confronted him assaulting the then 22-year-old woman. The judge wrote that the victim was slurring her speech when she left a fraternity party with Turner and the graduate students testified the victim appeared unconscious when they showed up, chased Turner and held him down until police arrived. He denied running when questioned by police.

"He did not explain or defend himself to them," Elia wrote. "And he lied to police about running."

The sentence Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky gave Turner stoked intense debate about rape on U.S. college campuses.

Voters recalled Persky in June because of the sentence. In response to the Turner case, California lawmakers passed legislation to broaden the state's legal definition of rape and mandate prison if the victim was unconscious.

The sentence was not part of the appeal and the judges didn't address it.

Turner could petition the California Supreme Court to consider his appeal. 

Michelle Dauber, the Stanford law professor who led the judge's recall campaign, called on Turner to drop any further appeals.

"The appellate court has now rejected that idea, and I think everyone, including Brock Turner, would be better served by accepting the jury's verdict and moving on," she said.

Turner lives outside Dayton, Ohio, with his parents. He is required to register as a sex offender for life.