Twenty Minutes of Action?

Twenty Minutes of Action?

I was cruising the news and commentary sites looking for a significant business ethics subject to write about today. I wanted to avoid talking about the “Stanford Swimmer Who Raped Unconscious Woman” story.  As the media buzz accumulated I felt that there were plenty of people writing about it and my two cents weren’t needed. But then I read the father of the criminal had called for mercy saying his son had only got “twenty minutes of action.”

At first when I read it this morning, it was annoying like a fly buzzing about my consciousness but by this afternoon, it had morphed into an angry dragon and I knew what I was going to write about.

There is so much wrong here.

First, we have the usual two tiered system of justice which I have written about before. A privileged youth is given a sentence which seems totally out of proportion to the crime. This is definitely one of those cases.

This crime is vicious. He raped an unconscious woman. And yet the judge found that, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” – Yes, I suppose it would. Prison is supposed to do that.  But the judge gave the rapist six months in jail and probation as opposed to the prosecution’s recommendation of six years.

Second, he doesn’t seem to have gotten the message that he did something wrong and far worse, he doesn’t seem to care.

In her 12-page victim impact statement, that has spread on social media, the woman noted that Turner has only admitted to being drunk that night, but has not acknowledged that he assaulted her and has continued to argue that the encounter was consensual.


Twenty Minutes of Action
Twenty Minutes of Action

The judge seemed to show some sympathy to Turner’s perspective. “I take him at his word that subjectively that’s his version of his events. … I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him,” he said.


Dauber said she was further shocked to see Persky minimize the significance of the guilty verdicts, which came from a jury of eight men and four women. The judge said at sentencing: “A trial is a search for the truth. It’s an imperfect process.”

The Apple did not Fall Far from the Tree

Third, we have the father’s statement from the probation pre-sentencing report. Many commentators have focused on the “twenty minutes of action” comment but I tend to focus on the first line: “As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered by the events of Jan 17th and 18th.”

It gives the impression that his son didn’t do anything but was the victim of some natural event like a rainstorm or a stiff breeze. A more honest statement might have read – “My son, Brock has severely damaged his future prospects by raping an unconscious woman.” But no. You can read the entire statement without getting the impression that Brock did anything wrong until you think about the implications of the “twenty minutes of action.” It is possible to perceive that Brock may have chosen to spend that twenty minutes unwisely.

But the father’s statement gets even better if we go down about two thirds of the way. You’ll love this line. I did. “He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015.”

He raped a woman without violence? How does that work? Was it a soft, pleasant assault? I am going to go with  – No, it wasn’t. It was a rape, an act of violence.

There is no responsibility here. As far as I can tell, the family is running with the idea that there are two victims both assaulted by un-indicted evil monster of binge drinking. Drinking does not and will never excuse rape. Not to mention the fact, that Brock was sober enough to run away when caught.

There is only one victim, the woman who was violated. And there is not another victim but a criminal, a criminal who did everything under the circumstances to evade justice. And this criminal and his family have failed to own up to what has been done.

And yet, the father does not feel his son should be imprisoned because Brock “is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

That’s right. Brock is now a sort of missionary carrying a vital message to his fellow youth that people should avoid large quantities of alcohol and sex. Except Brock isn’t a victim of alcohol or promiscuity. Brock took advantage of an unconscious woman to perform an act of violation. Brock is a convicted felon, a criminal who did the unthinkable.

No man of decency or with a shred of honor could bring himself to violate a sleeping woman much less a drunk or incapacitated one. A gentleman’s duty when confronted with an unconscious woman is one of protection and help. He must insure her safety and get her assistance.

This criminal failed in his duty and directly harmed a helpless woman. There should be punishment befitting this crime.

What is the lesson we can derive from this sorry mess of a case? Very simple. If you have money, position and power and can make a statement blaming your crime on a climate of binge drinking and promiscuity, you can evade many of the consequences for your actions. That’s wrong.

That is not a lesson I am content with but it is the one we have.

James Pilant