Brock Turner Only Wanted “Outercourse,” Lawyer Argues In Sexual Assault Appeal

“I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about,” a justice responded.

Screenshot via Oxforddictionaries.com

A lawyer for Brock Turner argued this week that his client shouldn’t have been convicted of intending to commit rape. His reasoning is that Turner only wanted “outercourse” with the woman he sexually assaulted. 

Turner, of course, is the former Stanford University student who was found thrusting on top of an unconscious 22-year-old woman near a dumpster by a frat house in January 2015.  The following year, a jury convicted him on three charges: intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person.

AP

The case drew public attention in June 2016, when a powerful letter written by the woman Turner assaulted, Emily Doe, went viral. That month, Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to just six months in county jail, along with probation and sex-offender registry, prompting widespread outrage. (Turner served three months total; in June of this year, Santa Clara County voters removed Perksy from the bench in an extraordinary recall election.)

In front of a three-justice appeals panel in San Jose on Tuesday, Turner’s lawyer, Eric Multhaup, explained that “outercourse” is sexual contact while fully clothed—”a version of safe sex,” he told the justices. Since Turner chose to have “outercourse,” Multhaup reasoned, he must not have intended to commit rape.

The lawyer laid out more of this argument in an appeal filing in May, which referred to the Oxford Dictionaries definition of outercourse. “The ‘aggressive thrusting’ or ‘humping’ while fully clothed is viewed in modern times as an alternative to or substitute for sexual intercourse, not a precursor to it,” he wrote. “As a matter of common sense, the sexual activity that was observed here is mutually exclusive to actual intercourse. [Turner] clearly had elected to engage in the activity of thrusting with his pants on.” 

But the justices this week weren’t buying it. According to the Mercury NewsJustice Franklin D. Elia listened, “poker-faced,” before telling Multhaup that proving “intent to commit rape” did not require that defendants had exposed themselves. “I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about.”

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.