Three words that haunted rape victim

 

"Unconscious, intoxicated woman."

Those are the three words Chanel Miller, the woman who was raped by Brock Turner, saw herself described as over and over again.

Up until now, the 27-year-old writer and artist from San Francisco has been known only as Jane Doe.

For years, Ms Miller has had the details of the night Turner raped her behind a dumpster on an American college campus played out around the world.

She was forced to endure strangers speculating how much alcohol she had drunk that night in 2015, all while hearing about her rapist's star swimming status at Stanford University and his promising future.

Ms Miller will speak out publicly for the first time this weekend during an interview to be aired on 60 Minutes.

Chanel Miller reveals her identity as Brock Turner’s victim. Picture: 60 Minutes/CBS
Chanel Miller reveals her identity as Brock Turner’s victim. Picture: 60 Minutes/CBS

In 2016, still under the name Jane Doe, she revealed the impact of being unable to control her own narrative had on her in a powerful statement she read out directly to Turner in court.

"You don't know me, but you've been inside me, and that's why we're here today," Ms Miller said.

"You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was 'unconscious intoxicated woman', 10 syllables, and nothing more than that.

"For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am.

"That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake."

WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT

On January 18, 2015, at around 1am, Turner was found raping an unconscious Ms Miller, then 22, behind a dumpster at Stanford University following a frat party.

The sexual assault was stopped when two students cycled past and witnessed what was occurring.

They pinned Turner down until police arrived and arrested him.

When Ms Miller regained consciousness, she found herself strapped to a gurney with dried blood and bandages on the back of her hands and elbow.

She was told she had been assaulted, but it wasn't until days later that she found out the details of what had occurred.

"I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me," Ms Miller said.

Turner was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to six months in prison. Picture: Greene County Sheriff's Office/AP
Turner was convicted in 2016 and sentenced to six months in prison. Picture: Greene County Sheriff's Office/AP

"I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair dishevelled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognise."

A 20-year-old Turner was found guilty in March 2016 of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.

The maximum sentence for these crimes was 14 years.

Turner was sentenced to just six months behind bars, of which he only served three.

The light sentence sparked international outcry, as did the comments made by Judge Aaron Persky.

"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him," Judge Persky said.

"I think he will not be a danger to others."

After imposing the sentence, Judge Persky was recalled by voters in 2018, making him the first judge to be recalled in California since 1932.

Judge Aaron Persky was recalled after he handed down the light sentence. Picture: Jeff Chiu/AP
Judge Aaron Persky was recalled after he handed down the light sentence. Picture: Jeff Chiu/AP

 

WORLDWIDE OUTRAGE

The case gained worldwide attention and shone a light on how the legal system often favoured perpetrators over victims.

"The punishment does not fit the crime," said local district lawyer Jeff Rosen after the sentence was announced.

"The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault or the victim's ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape."

In an editorial, local newspaper the San Jose Mercury News called the six-month county jail sentence "a slap on the wrist".

"Brock Turner's six-month jail term for sexual assault of an intoxicated, unconscious woman on the Stanford campus last year is a setback for the movement to take campus rape seriously," the newspaper said.

"If Turner's slap on the wrist sentence is a setback, activists can take some comfort that the jurors at the trial in March saw what happened as a very serious crime."

Not only did Turner only serve three months in prison for his crimes, his lawyers launched a shocking appeal in an attempt to overturn the registered sex offender's conviction.

Ms Miller’s searing statement at Turner's sentencing caused a public outcry. Picture: Mariah Tiffany/Viking/AP
Ms Miller’s searing statement at Turner's sentencing caused a public outcry. Picture: Mariah Tiffany/Viking/AP

His argument for appeal was detailed in a shocking 172-page document, with about 60 pages focusing on how drunk Ms Miller was on the night of the attack.

The document, filed to the state of California's court of appeal, cites the victim's suspected blood alcohol level and makes a case for her being drunk on the night of the assault while emphasising Turner's "high moral character".

"In preparation for the party, Ms Doe consumed four shots of whisky at the Doe residence … after which Ms Doe's mother drove them to the Stanford campus and dropped them off around 11.00pm, when they entered the Kappa Alpha house and continued drinking," the brief read.

In the appeal, Turner's lawyers argued their client was denied due process during his trial and called it "fundamentally unfair".

Turner's father, Dan, spoke out after his son's conviction, saying it was a "steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action".

Turner’s father said his son’s conviction was too harsh. Picture: Supplied
Turner’s father said his son’s conviction was too harsh. Picture: Supplied

"He will never be his happy-go-lucky self with that easygoing personality and welcoming smile," he wrote in a statement.

"His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.

"The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organisations."

Turner's father even went on to suggest his son could have become a role model for young people by educating them "about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity".

Chanel Miller's book "Know My Name" will be available from September 24.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.


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