News & Politics

Brock Turner Is Now Literally the Dictionary Definition of a Rapist

His photo appears in the rape section of a criminal justice textbook.

Photo Credit: State of California/Wikimedia Commons

A brand-new college textbook uses a photograph of Brock Turner in a chapter dedicated to the subject of rape. The convicted rapist’s mugshot appears in the second edition of Introduction to Criminal Justice: Systems, Diversity, and Change. Washington State University freshman Hannah Shuman posted the relevant pages to Facebook. The book is being used in a WSU Criminal Justice 101 class, according to Shuman. Turner’s photo includes a caption describing his crimes and the astounding leniency given to him by the court:

“Brock Turner, a Stanford student who raped and assaulted an unconscious female college student behind a dumpster at a fraternity party, was recently released from jail after serving only three months. Some are shocked at how short this sentence is. 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.”

“He may have been able to get out of prison time,” Shuman wrote in her Facebook post, “but in my Criminal Justice 101 textbook, Brock Turner is the definition of rape, so he’s got that going for him.”

Turner was a student at Stanford University at the time he committed the assault on a fellow student. He was indicted based on a mountain of evidence, including accounts from two witnesses who caught Turner mid-assault, chased him down and physically held him until police arrived. He was ultimately charged with three felonies, including “assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.”

The story became nationwide news, in part because of news coverage that could only be described as rape apologism. One Washington Post article dubbed Turner “an all-American swimmer” with a “once-promising future.” The case helped highlight the vast gulf in treatment afforded rich white criminals and their peers of color.

Jezebel reached out to textbook authors Mary Dodge and Callie Rennison, who didn’t comment directly on Turner’s appearance in the book. However, Rennison noted that “existing criminal justice books have focused on three elements: cops, courts and corrections. They speak little about victims, reflecting how they have effectively been in the shadows of our criminal justice system. In our book, victims are front and center with equal emphasis as cops, courts and corrections. This is the way it should be.”

The Stanford rape victim wrote a letter to Turner that remains astounding in its clarity and emotion. 

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Kali Holloway is a senior writing fellow and the senior director of Make It Right, a project of the Independent Media Institute.