“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

With these brief opening words of her unflinching testimony, one sexual assault victim, named Emily Doe to protect her privacy, knocked a nation to its knees.

Her story has hit us hard in recent days, but really it dates back to last January, when two Stanford University students caught a man thrusting himself on an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. They confronted him and held him until the police arrived. His victim was Emily Doe, who had blacked out from drinking. She woke up hours later in the hospital, with pine needles in her hair and abrasions all over her body.

After a yearlong trial, a jury found Brock Turner—his name now notorious from the headlines—guilty of three charges of felony sexual assault. The former Stanford student was convicted of assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. The latter two offenses are classified as rape by the Justice Department.

Turner should have received between 8 and 20 years in prison for his crime, based on recommendations from the United States Sentencing Commission; according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average amount of time a convicted rapist spends locked up is 11 years. By now, many of us have heard the unthinkable end to his trial: Turner was sentenced to a mere six months in the county jail, followed by three years probation.

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Judge Aaron Persky stated in defense. “I think he will not be a danger to others.” The light ...

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