As It Happens

California legislature votes to close loophole after Brock Turner sex assault case

The Stanford student found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster is set to be released Friday. California Assembly Member Bill Dodd co-wrote legislation that would have mandatory minimums apply in all cases of sexual assault.
L; Brock Turner's original arrest photo from Jan 18, 2015. R; California State Assemblyperson Bill Dodd (D-Napa) (CP Images; Bill Dodd)

California lawmakers voted unanimously this week to close a loophole in sexual assault law that allowed for a more lenient sentence in cases where the victim did not actively resist the assault. 

Rape is rape.- California assemblyperson Bill Dodd (D-Napa)
The move was inspired by the Brock Turner sexual assault case. Turner, a former elite swimmer at Stanford University, is set to be released on good behaviour Friday, after only three months behind bars for sexual assault. His was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, a sentence many considered lenient. 
An unidentified graduate holds up a protest sign at the Stanford University graduation exercises on June 12, 2016. (D. Ross Cameron/AP)

California Assembly Member Bill Dodd co-wrote the bill to close the loophole. He spoke to As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch. 

"The current law provides that a defendant's use of force triggers a mandatory prison sentence," he says."However, when a victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated and unable to resist, there isn't the same sentencing requirement."

"There shouldn't be a disparity between the two crimes. . . Rape is rape." 

He also expressed concern that lenient sentencing could "discourage other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal." 

His bill passed unanimously in the state legislature, but still needs to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown before becoming law. 
Brock Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated victim and two charges of digitally penetrating an unconscious and intoxicated victim. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group/AP)

In the meantime, Dodd says he hopes that Turner "has learned a lesson . . . and really works to try and change the culture." 

"At the end of the day, the poor young woman who had to go through that ordeal is still left thinking, 'Nobody protected me.'"

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