Watch CBS News

Congresswoman Jackie Speier Leads Effort To Recognize Stanford Sexual Assault Victim's Plight

PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- Brock Turner admitted to making a mistake, but he blamed alcohol. And the victim says that's not claiming responsibility, that's making an excuse.

The outrage over the judge's decision to sentence the attacker to six months in jail has spurred threats to the Santa Clara County judge and his family.

"The fact that people are calling his courtroom and threatening him and his family hoping that he dies badly I mean that's just ridiculous," said Gary Goodman, an attorney at the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office.

But not everyone agrees with Goodman. In fact, the backlash against Judge Aaron Persky appears to be intensifying.

Stanford University students plan to protest Persky's ruling during the university's commencement day this Sunday.

And now we're learning that the rape victim in Turner's case said in an interview for the probation report last month: "I want him to be punished, but as a human, I just want him to get better... he doesn't need to be behind bars."

But she seemed to have a change of mind after reading the probation report, saying in a statement on Turner's sentencing day: "The probation officer's recommendation of a year or less in county jail insult to me and all the women."

The victim said, "After reading the defendant's report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse..."

KPIX5 legal analyst and retired judge, Ladoris Cordell, said, "We'll never know what the judge was thinking or what influenced him unless we hear from the judge."

Cordell believes Judge Persky already made up his mind before hearing the victim's statement.

"A judge can be influenced by what it is the victim wants but it just kind of rarely happens in most cases. Judges have pretty much made up their minds before they even start to hear the case because they've reviewed the file, they've seen the probation report and they pretty much know what they're going to do," Cordell said.

So another big question out of this case: What more can be done to help victims of rape and sexual assault? Well, Congress is now stepping in to help bring awareness to the victim's plight.

Rep. Jackie Speier said, "We are going to do a special order next week on the House floor, men and women, members of Congress from across the country are going to take turns reading the statement by the victim."

It's an unprecedented move. A first of its kind in terms length and content, Congresswoman Jackie Speier is leading the charge on Capitol Hill to support the Stanford sex assault victim.

At over 7,000 words, members will read the statement in shifts, devoting an entire hour to the cause at a time when members are at their busiest, with a short session of Congress leading into to the elections.

"We will be taking one hour of special focused time to do this next week," Speier said.

And while it may seem Congress can't agree on anything, Speier's office says they've been overwhelmed with requests to participate from both male and female members who will be reading the powerful words the victim read in court, including: "You don't know me, but you've been inside me, and that's why we're here today."

And in describing how the victim, who'd been unconscious during the attack, learned about the details online, members will read: "at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times."

Nearly 12 million people have already read her story, which is trending on Buzzfeed, and has quickly become a beacon for victims' rights.

But Caitlin Kauffman, of Bay Area Women Against Rape, said Speier's move will shine that light brighter and farther.

"It speaks for survivors across the country and around the world to give us this national stage and have lawmakers make the time and space," Kauffman said.

She's also applauding Speier's pending legislation - the Halt Act - that would, among other things,  hold universities accountable for enforcing federal protections for sex assault victims.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.