Brock Turner Released From Jail After Three Months

Brock Turner departs Santa Clara County's main jail in San Jose last September after serving three months on his sexual assault conviction. (Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Weekly)

Brock Turner walked out the front door of Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose shortly after 6 a.m. Friday after serving half of a controversial six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on Stanford University's campus.

"He's gone. We're done with him. He belongs in prison," said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith after Turner, separated by barricades and sheriff's deputies, walked a gauntlet of media and protesters to a waiting white SUV.

Turner was later intercepted by news crews as he entered a hotel with his parents. He said nothing as a reporter asked if he wanted to apologize.

Sandra Pfeiffer was one of a small number of demonstrators who watched Turner leave jail.

"Other people get locked away for a very long time. Why did he get out after 90 days?" asked Pfeiffer, who said she is a rape survivor. "Why? Why? It doesn't make sense."

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More demonstrators gathered later Friday morning across the street from the jail outside the Santa Clara Hall of Justice. Many held signs calling for the recall of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who has been widely criticized for handing down the six-month jail sentence on three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison, and prosecutors had asked for a six-year sentence.

"This sentence also sent a dangerous message," said Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor who is leading a campaign to place a recall measure for Persky on the November 2017 ballot. "To victims of sexual violence it sent the message, 'Don’t bother to call the police because you will not get justice.'  And to potential perpetrators it sent the message, 'Don’t worry the courts will have your back.'”

An online petition calling for Perksy's removal from the bench has more than 1.3 million signatures. Last week, Persky asked to be reassigned to civil court, and earlier this week, he launched his own campaign against his recall.

Before Turner was set free, Smith told the large media contingent waiting outside the jail that the former Stanford student would receive "no special treatment" in his release. Smith also made clear her support for AB 2888, a bill passed by the state Legislature this week that would bar judges from granting probation in sexual assault cases where the victim was unconscious or intoxicated.

"As the sheriff of Santa Clara County and a mother, I believe that the interests of justice are best served by ensuring that sexual predators are sent to prison as punishment for their crime," Smith wrote in an open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown encouraging him to sign the bill into law. "Victims of these types of sexual assaults struggle for years to cope with the damage done to their lives, and knowing that there is a more just punishment to those that perpetrated these assaults may provide some solace to these victims."

Smith also confirmed that Turner received hate mail while in protective custody at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas and the Main Jail in San Jose. She didn't say whether those messages included death threats.

The case became national news after Turner's victim delivered a 12-page, single-spaced letter to Turner at his sentencing in June.

"The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women," she wrote. "It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence."

Turner had met his victim during a fraternity party at Stanford in January 2015. He was apprehended after passers-by saw him assaulting the unconscious woman behind a trash bin on campus.

Turner is expected to return home to Ohio following his release, where he will serve three years of probation and be required to register as a sex offender.

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