Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

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Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby Kivutar » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:30 pm

So, this is blowing up the internet:

It isn't a very long story, and it's very familiar. Woman drinks too much at a party, passes out. Man proceeds to sexually assault her while unconscious.

It's also a very black-and-white case: The man was literally caught in the act by two passersby and captured by them. The woman was taken to a hospital with obvious injuries and did not recover consciousness until 3 hours later. Dude and Gal have never met before, so no relationship that the defense can use to paint this as ambiguous. Dude argues that it was consensual, which fools no one. Dude is convicted by the jury on three counts.

The judge then sentences Dude to only six months in prison, on the grounds that a longer sentence would have a "severe impact" on him. Because... prison is not supposed to have a severe impact? The impact on the victim was not severe?

The case is becoming a poster for campus sexual assault, mainly because of the aforementioned clarity, and because it is so archetypal: Dude is well-to-do, white, athletic, Stanford student, etc. Dude also refuses to admit wrongdoing to the end. Dude emphatically does not get what he deserves.

The victim, who is a badass, puts it a lot better than I do:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby DamianaRaven » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:36 pm

This story sickened me as well. His whole defense was built on "I was too drunk to make sensible decisions." He was sober enough to get up and run from the guys who caught him, though. He knew Goddamn good and well that he was doing a Very Bad Thing and showed no remorse that wasn't borne of self-pity. The judge should be called to account for sympathizing with such a rapist and basically just pissing all over the victim's right to justice.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby Marcuse » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:23 pm

I'm all for innocent until proven guilty, but I fail to see a reasonable basis for this guy not getting sentenced for longer than six months for sexual assault once he's been convicted of it. I went and read the entire statement from the victim in this case, and I don't see how it's fair that they could take a 15 minute conversation where she expressed a degree of sympathy for her attacker as justification for sentencing him to less time than it took to hear the case in prison.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby aviel » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:02 pm

The United States has the highest prison population in the world, and the approximately the highest per capita prison population in the world. This is despite the fact that we don't at all have the highest rate of convictions in the world -- meaning that our high incarceration rate is due, at least in part, to the unusual length of our sentences. So, when advocating a longer sentence, you have to overcome a substantial presumption that the original sentence is too long already. Why would longer than six months be better in this case?
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby DamianaRaven » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:16 pm

In my opinion, it wasn't so much the length of the sentence that was insulting as the judge's flippantly sympathetic attitude for a convicted rapist. Also, his athletic skill (swimming) was brought up almost as if it were an extenuating circumstance. This is yet another shameful example of people thinking that athletes have "suffered enough" when they risk/destroy their career by raping someone. Just look at the whole Baylor brouhaha for further evidence of a toxic rape culture in the sports world.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby Kivutar » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:22 pm

aviel wrote:Why would longer than six months be better in this case?


Because the guy is a literal stranger-in-an-alleyway rapist?

I'd say he was a menace to society, but now it seems that society is almost as dangerous as he is.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby Marcuse » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:28 pm

aviel wrote:The United States has the highest prison population in the world, and the approximately the highest per capita prison population in the world. This is despite the fact that we don't at all have the highest rate of convictions in the world -- meaning that our high incarceration rate is due, at least in part, to the unusual length of our sentences. So, when advocating a longer sentence, you have to overcome a substantial presumption that the original sentence is too long already. Why would longer than six months be better in this case?


Well first of all, six months for three counts of sexual assault is less than the standard minimum sentence. Given that I would expect there would be some significant extenuating circumstances that would merit such a reduction, rather than having to prove why a longer sentence would be necessary. The presumption there would be that the sentencing guidelines are in some way based on experiential evidence that this is the appropriate range of sentences for such a crime, and to reduce it further would require some reason to do so.

On top of this, the sheer facts of the case are pretty telling. The accused maintains his innocence even following three unanimous guilty verdicts on three counts of sexual assault. He built his case on the ridiculous premise that someone not aware enough to speak was able to give consent, and never appears to have recanted of that belief. He spoke of wanting to set up an organisation to counteract "drinking culture and the accompanying promiscuity", as though his issue there is drinking and not sexual assault. He referred to "one night of drinking can ruin a life". A life. Not two lives, the victim and the attacker who has lost a promising future, but a life. He shows no understanding of his crime, no understanding of the suffering he's caused to the victim, and in maintaining his innocence demonstrates that he felt he did nothing wrong at the time.

One important feature of criminal incarceration is to communicate censure of actions. This man has demonstrated no remedial action or thought regarding his crimes, and has attempted to play off the fact he has lost scholarships and an athletic career as sufficient penalty for his sexual assault. In response the legal system has handed him a sentence lower than the recommended minimum sentence for such a crime, and the victim is unhappy with this. In this case, i feel there's a strong case to argue in favour of a longer sentence for the purpose of justice for the victim, and sheer public protection given the unwillingness of the guy to admit culpability even after being convicted of the crimes.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby cmsellers » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:29 pm

I'm usually on the "that sentence is too long" crowd, but six months for rape seems really short to me, especially when it results from a conviction after a trial with such clear and convincing evidence.

Now, it would be one thing if this had resulted from a plea bargain. While I usually dislike plea bargains for a variety reasons, I support them in sexual assault cases in the US because the victims are forced to face their rapists in court, and subjected to slut shaming and character assassination by opposing counsel. If the victim is unwilling to testify a six-month plea bargain is better than nothing.

However in this case, the case went to court (with really strong evidence), and the victim was forced to go through the whole ordeal of testifying. And considering that she was passed out at the time of the rape, it's not like her testimony was needed to convict him. It looks to me like the only reason she was called to testify was so that the rapist's attorney could try to pursue a shadow defense of "she was asking for it" while harassing and shaming her under color of law.

As Marc noted, the punishment for the victim (the trial) lasted longer than the punishment for the rapist. Six months in this case is simply appalling.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby aviel » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:43 pm

Marcuse wrote:The presumption there would be that the sentencing guidelines are in some way based on experiential evidence that this is the appropriate range of sentences for such a crime, and to reduce it further would require some reason to do so.

That's clearly not the presumption when the US has such an appalling incarceration rate.

In this case, i feel there's a strong case to argue in favour of a longer sentence for the purpose of justice for the victim, and sheer public protection given the unwillingness of the guy to admit culpability even after being convicted of the crimes.

Do you have some evidence that a longer sentence would help with any of these issues? Arguments along the line of "but he's so horrible!" don't really mean anything by themselves. Unless a longer sentence would be likely to make him less horrible, then I don't really see why that's relevant.

Is there any basis, other than pure intuition, for the notion that six months isn't a long enough sentence? Because so far data seem to indicate that sentences in the US are much too long.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby Marcuse » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:59 pm

aviel wrote:
Marcuse wrote:The presumption there would be that the sentencing guidelines are in some way based on experiential evidence that this is the appropriate range of sentences for such a crime, and to reduce it further would require some reason to do so.

That's clearly not the presumption when the US has such an appalling incarceration rate.


This principle can't really be universalised. If we're going to shy away from sentencing this case by the guidelines because of other people are incarcerated for too long then why have guidelines? The only relevant factors in sentencing this case should be the facts of this case, it's unjust to recommend this guy get a shorter sentence because other people have been incarcerated for too long.

Aviel wrote:
In this case, i feel there's a strong case to argue in favour of a longer sentence for the purpose of justice for the victim, and sheer public protection given the unwillingness of the guy to admit culpability even after being convicted of the crimes.

Do you have some evidence that a longer sentence would help with any of these issues? Arguments along the line of "but he's so horrible!" don't really mean anything by themselves. Unless a longer sentence would be likely to make him less horrible, then I don't really see why that's relevant.

Is there any basis, other than pure intuition, for the notion that six months isn't a long enough sentence? Because so far data seem to indicate that sentences in the US are much too long.


If you think my previous post was just stating "but he's so horrible" then I encourage you to read it again, and more closely.

My point was actually that this guy is unrepentant of his crime, and still denies its existence. He has made no attempt at the kind of remedy that would make him less of a risk of re-offending. In addition, sentencing him to less that guideline length on the basis that his sexual assault meant it is difficult for him to pursue his promising career as an athlete hands the prosecution of justice into private hands, and unfairly advantages the rich and powerful by allowing them to escape the infringement of rights that the justice system imposes for this kind of crime. If he had sought to remedy the attitude and behaviour that caused this behaviour then I could see a case for lessening the sentence, as it stands he has not done so. Indeed, he has in fact prolonged the ordeal the victim faced by continuing to protest his innocence even after his conviction, and so demonstrates his unwillingness to accept wrongdoing and therefore signalling his current inability to address such behaviour in the future.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby aviel » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:12 pm

Marcuse wrote:This principle can't really be universalised. If we're going to shy away from sentencing this case by the guidelines because of other people are incarcerated for too long then why have guidelines? The only relevant factors in sentencing this case should be the facts of this case, it's unjust to recommend this guy get a shorter sentence because other people have been incarcerated for too long.

Well right, I wouldn't recommend that just this guy get a shorter sentence, so I'm not sure what point is being made here. If we should be handing down sentences shorter than the guidelines recommend, then that's a good argument that the current guidelines are bad.

If you think my previous post was just stating "but he's so horrible" then I encourage you to read it again, and more closely.

Sorry; it wasn't clear from context, but that wasn't primarily addressed at you.

My point was actually that this guy is unrepentant of his crime, and still denies its existence. He has made no attempt at the kind of remedy that would make him less of a risk of re-offending. In addition, sentencing him to less that guideline length on the basis that his sexual assault meant it is difficult for him to pursue his promising career as an athlete hands the prosecution of justice into private hands, and unfairly advantages the rich and powerful by allowing them to escape the infringement of rights that the justice system imposes for this kind of crime. If he had sought to remedy the attitude and behaviour that caused this behaviour then I could see a case for lessening the sentence, as it stands he has not done so. Indeed, he has in fact prolonged the ordeal the victim faced by continuing to protest his innocence even after his conviction, and so demonstrates his unwillingness to accept wrongdoing and therefore signalling his current inability to address such behaviour in the future.

I don't understand this argument. How would longer sentencing him to longer than six months solve any of these problems? As far as I know, a longer sentence wouldn't make him more willing to repent afterwards, wouldn't make him less likely to offend in the future, and certainly wouldn't constitute a general remedy to the bias the criminal justice system has against the poor and underprivileged.
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Last edited by aviel on Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby CarrieVS » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:15 pm

aviel wrote:If we should be handing down sentences shorter than the guidelines recommend, then that's a good argument that the current guidelines are bad.


I think Marcuse's point is that he's taking it as the null hypothesis that the sentence recommended by the guidelines is appropriate, and a change to or deviation from that should be justified. I would have to look into the subject to find out, but one would hope they weren't assigned entirely arbitrarily.

So what are your reasons for thinking that the guidelines are wrong, either in general or in this case?
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby aviel » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:17 pm

CarrieVS wrote:So what are your reasons for thinking that the guidelines are wrong, either in general or in this case?


I linked to those in my very first post; the US incarceration rate is appalling, and this is substantially in part due to the length of our sentences. The presumption shouldn't be, therefore, that guidelines for typical sentencing are fine, because they demonstrably aren't. This is the third time I've made this point in about four posts, so I'm confused as to why it's not being heard.
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby CarrieVS » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:23 pm

aviel wrote:I linked to those in my very first post; the US incarceration rate is appalling, and this is substantially in part due to the length of our sentences. The presumption shouldn't be, therefore, that guidelines for typical sentencing are fine, because they demonstrably aren't. This is the third time I've made this point in about four posts, so I'm confused as to why it's not being heard.


Perhaps because it doesn't follow automatically that the standard sentences for all crimes are too high - indeed I've heard it said, though I did not fact-check the claim, that in the US sentences for violent crimes are unusually low, supposedly because sentences for things like drug offences are too high, meaning there's no room in prisons for rapists and murderers.

I would think we all agree that a single standard sentence to be applied regardless of the crime isn't appropriate, so your point needs to address the crime in question.

So what do you think is an appropriate sentence for rape, and why?
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Re: Convicted rapist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Postby SandTea » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:06 am

aviel wrote:I don't understand this argument. How would longer sentencing him to longer than six months solve any of these problems? As far as I know, a longer sentence wouldn't make him more willing to repent afterwards, wouldn't make him less likely to offend in the future,


It would stop a rapist from raping for longer.
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