U.S. Rep. Ted Poe of Texas stood on the House floor Thursday morning, calling for an appeals court to overturn Brock Turner’s “pathetic” six-month sentence in the Stanford sexual assault case.
He also said California Judge Aaron Persky, who oversaw the case, “got it wrong” and demanded the judge be removed. Poe, R-Humble, believes Turner, a 20-year-old former Stanford student who was found guilty in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, deserves more time than the six-month jail sentence and three years probation.
“Justice demands the judge removed, the defendant should receive more time in prison and we the people, the community, must support and assist the victim in all possible ways,” Poe said. “Because, Mr. Speaker, rape is never the fault of the victim.”
According to Persky, he does not believe Turner will be a danger to others and thinks “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”
“Well isn’t that the point?” Poe said. “Mr. Speaker, the punishment for rape should be longer than a semester in college.”
Poe went on to read excerpts from the victim’s court room statement, posted in full on Buzzfeed. Prior to serving in Congress, Poe served for eight years in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and 22 years as a criminal court judge in Houston. He said during that time, he met many rape victims and learned how attacks sometimes devastate their lives.
“For many victims, Mr. Speaker, rape is a fate worse than death,” he said. “Rape victims say after they’ve been raped, they die emotionally many times and with homicide one dies only once.”
Vice President Joe Biden also addressed the Stanford sexual assault case Thursday in an open letter to “the courageous young woman.” Here is an excerpt:
I am in awe of your courage for speaking out — for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity.
And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.
Poe said there’s an archaic philosophy in some courts that “sin ain’t sin as long as good folk do it,” noting Turner’s career as a champion swimmer. He wrapped up his speech by saying that being a good college athlete and self-righteousness “do not trump justice.”
“As a country, we must change our mentality and make sure that people recognize sexual assault and rape for the horrible crimes that they are,” Poe said. “I want to know that my granddaughters are growing up in a society that has zero tolerance for this criminal conduct. No means no.”