This week, the California Assembly unanimously passed a measure that would ensure a prison sentence for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a person who is unconscious.
The 66-0 vote comes on the heels of a controversial sentence handed down to Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who will serve only 3 months of a 6-month sentence for 3 felony counts of sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman during a fraternity party. Prosecutors were seeking a 6-year prison sentence in the case.
Turner is scheduled to be released this Friday, thanks to “good behavior.”
“Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that,” Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, told NPR. “Letting felons convicted of such crimes get off with probation discourages other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal.”
Current California law imposes a prison sentence when physical force is used in the course of a rape. The new law would mandate a prison term whenever the victim is intoxicated or unconscious and the perpetrator does not have to use force.
Judge Aaron Persky, who handed down Turner’s light sentence, was the target of a recall petition that gained more than 1 million signatures. He’s since asked to be transferred to civil court where he will not hear any criminal cases.
The California bill is awaiting Governor Jerry Brown‘s signature.