SAN JOSE, California (AP) — A lawyer for former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner argued Tuesday that his client’s attempted rape conviction should be overturned. Turner never intended to rape an unconscious woman, he said.
Eric Malthaup told a California appeals court in San Jose that Turner had his clothes on when he was discovered by two Swedish graduate students on top of a half-naked, intoxicated woman, the Mercury News reported.
NBC News reports Multhaup argued that Turner was engaged in “sexual outercourse” and did not demonstrate that he intended to rape the victim.
But the poker-faced justices appeared skeptical of his argument. The panel has 90 days to issue a ruling.
“I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about,” Justice Franklin D. Elia said, adding that the law “requires the jury verdict to be honored.”
Assistant Attorney General Alisha Carlile argued that Multhaup had presented a “far-fetched version of events” that didn’t support the facts of the case.
Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman outside an on-campus fraternity house in 2015. After a trial in June 2016, a jury convicted Turner of sexual assault, and Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to six months in jail.
The sentence was widely criticized as too lenient.
After the victim’s 7,200-word letter to Turner that she read in the courtroom during sentencing was published online, the case drew national outrage. The case exploded on social media and ignited a debate about campus rape and the criminal justice system.
“I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives,” she wrote. “You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect.”
Santa Clara County voters recalled Persky in June after a campaign to unseat him raised more than $2 million in nationwide contributions. Critics of the judge and the sentence said Turner’s short jail term underscored how law enforcement minimized sexual assault and highlighted how privileged defendants who can afford private attorneys often fare better in court.
Turner, 22, lives outside of Dayton, Ohio, with his parents. He is required to register as a sex offender for life.