SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – Elected officials, law enforcement officers, university representatives and other leaders gathered at Santa Clara University Friday for a discussion on campus sexual assault in the aftermath of a rape case that has received international attention.
The one-day symposium organized by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office was planned before a former Stanford University student Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman outside a campus party.
The victim submitted a letter prior to the sentencing in June that was widely shared online and stirred significant outrage. The issue of campus sexual assault took on a new urgency after Turner received a relatively light sentence.
Turner, 21, stood trial earlier this year and a jury convicted him on three counts of felony sexual assault on an unconscious woman. He served half of his sentence for good behavior and was released from custody in September.
Academy Award-nominated actress Sharon Stone gave an emotional reading Friday of the victim’s full statement.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, called the victim “an inspiration to all of us that a human spirit can be badly battered but it can never be destroyed.”
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said the letter was honest, raw and special compared to other victim impact statements he has read over the years.
“Her letter changed the law,” Rosen said.
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2888 into law that raises the required minimum sentence for sexual assault on a conscious or unconscious victim to three years.
Rosen called the victim and the two Swedish graduate students who caught Turner in the act “upstanders,” and called on the crowd at Friday’s symposium to also take on that role.
Representatives from law enforcement agencies and Santa Clara University, San Jose State University and Stanford University were also set to sign a memorandum of understanding aimed to help boost response and prevention of sexual assaults.
Friday’s symposium schedule also includes remarks from writer Kevin Powell on the culture of rape and Kamilah Washington, an activist who will discuss the sexual assault she experienced at Harvard Law School.
Panel discussions are also scheduled on improving campus safety and how sexual assault cases can play out in the court system.
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