"No question" privilege was a factor in ex-Stanford swimmer's sentence

As former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner begins his controversial six-month jail sentence for sexual assault, many are asking whether privilege was a factor in the judge's decision.

Victim faces attacker, reads emotional letter

In a statement to the court, the assault victim raised the question: "If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be?"

CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said there is "no question" privilege was a factor in Turner's sentence.

"Privilege, wealth gets great lawyers, and the poor average Joe would wind up in a totally different circumstance," Klieman said Thursday on "CBS This Morning."

Turner received the sentence after being convicted on three counts of sexual assault, sparking controversy and outcry over the sentencing decision of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. Turner could have faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

Klieman said the "shocking" six-month sentence is not typical.

"It's very light, and I think by anyone's estimation, it is light," she said.

More than 800,000 people outraged by the sentencing have signed a Change.org petition calling for Judge Persky's removal from the bench. But Klieman said while the judge is "solely vilified," one has to examine what the judge was basing his decision on, including "a comprehensive report from the Department of Probation."

"The Probation Department concludes [Turner should receive] 'a moderate county jail sentence, formal probation and sexual offender treatment.' I've just read it," Klieman said. "So the judge is faced with that, he's faced with 39 letters from the defendant, his family and other supporters. And he's faced with -- and I will say it without fear of contradiction -- the most articulate statement I have ever read or heard from a victim of sexual assault in all of my years of either practicing law or covering these cases."

Backlash is also growing against people who defended Turner's actions.

CBS Dayton affiliate WHIO-TV reports that Turner's high school guidance counselor, Kelly Owens, apologized Wednesday to the Oakwood school district for writing a letter of support for him during the trial, saying, "I tell my students they have to be accountable, and Brock is no exception."