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Opinion

College Textbook Includes Brock Turner’s Face in Definition of Rape

Convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner served half of his already far too short six-month jail time, and now walks a free man after assaulting an unconscious woman. The county judge who sentenced him apparently didn’t want to ruin Turner’s life, valuing it above the dignity of Turner’s victim. The nation was shocked by the decision.

Then-Vice President Joe Biden shed tears. It sent the message that for rape victims whose main problem is usually being unable to provide decisive evidence, and being disbelieved and shamed and blamed, even with witnesses and all the proof in the world, the fight for justice is still an uphill one — one that might not be worth fighting to survivors on the fence about reporting.

But justice comes in a lot of forms. This week, a Twitter user discovered and shared a textbook with Turner’s mugshot next to the definition of rape:

His photo and case appear in the “Introduction to Criminal Justice, second edition” textbook in the “rape” section.

“Some are shocked at how short this sentence is,” the photo caption says. “Others who are more familiar with the way sexual violence has been handled in the criminal justice system are shocked that he was found guilty and served any time at all.”

The textbook’s author, University of Colorado, Denver professor Callie Marie Rennison, has said she wants her textbook to be a force to change the problematic dialogue around sexual assault and survivors, who are too often blamed, disbelieved, or, in the case of Turner’s victim, told that their experiences don’t matter.

“Existing criminal justice books … speak little about victims, reflecting how they have effectively been in the shadows of our criminal justice system,” she said. “In our book, victims are front and center with equal emphasis as cops, courts and corrections. This is the way it should be.”

Hopefully Turner’s appearance in Rennison’s book is how he will always be remembered.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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