Brock Turner, the man convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster near a Stanford frat house, is a free man. He spent just three months behind bars, half of the already pitiful six-month sentence he received at his trial. For perspective, that’s summer vacation for most of his former classmates.
Turner left jail to resume his life, still having never apologized to his victim.
Brock Turner leaving jail pic.twitter.com/9jglfnxhYD
— Ellen Cushing (@elcush) September 2, 2016
But while the news of Turner’s freedom caused a firestorm of outrage, media outlets appear to be falling into the very same traps they did in the first place: Downplay his crime, play up his athletics. Before Turner was a convicted rapist, he was a “star” swimmer at Stanford University – a point news reports fell over themselves to emphasize during his trial.
Now, three months later, they have apparently learned nothing, as Twitter user @PiaGlenn noted:
The problem with describing Turner’s athletic feats and ignoring his crimes is that it diminishes what happened. The victim of Turner’s assault surely doesn’t care how great he could swim laps. In a powerful piece posted to Buzzfeed, she spoke at length about the night of her assault and the impact it has had on her life. It also revealed just how infuriating and hurtful it can be to see the press glorify your attacker:
I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.
It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming.
That was then. This is now. And the press has learned absolutely nothing about how to properly cover Brock Turner. If a man is convicted of rape, call him a rapist. If he pleads guilty to sexual assault, say he plead guilty to sexual assault. What readers don’t need is a run down of his future athletic prospects. His now ruined chances of getting into the Olympics. His hobbies. His aspirations. His swimming times.
Wake up and be better.
Feature image via Twitter