Last week a 20-year-old Stanford student was sentenced to six months in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Many are outraged, saying the sentence is not strict enough.
A Cambria County assistant district attorney told us these cases can be difficult to prosecute. They are also hard on the victim both during and after the case. Beth Bolton Penna says she is beginning to see it happen more often on college campuses, “We’re trying to get the word out to young people to please come forward. Most rape victims do not come forward.”
Bolton Penna says when a case involves sexual assault or rape, it sometimes comes down to the victim’s word versus the defendant’s word.
“We recently had a case where we had lost on a campus rape. The jury just didn’t for whatever reason find that our evidence was enough. So it’s hard. Those cases are very hard.”
In the case of Stanford University student, Brock Turner, there were witnesses.
“The girl was apparently completely unconscious and being raped, so she might have woken up and had no idea what happened to her. In that case, it would be much more difficult to prosecute at that time.”
Turner received a sentence of six months in jail, plus probation, causing outrage among some.
“When these acts are not taken seriously or when they’re ignored, victims are singled out for humiliation and those who committed those crimes go unpunished. That what happen at Stanford University for example,” Governor Tom Wolf said during a press conference.
Wolf spoke Wednesday about Pennsylvania’s “It’s on us” system. He said one out of every five college women are assaulted. It could be your classmate, friend, or family member. He said Pennsylvania won’t put up with it, and neither will Cambria County, according to Bolton Penna.
“We are working very hard in Cambria County to work with these victims, and get them through counseling and other means.”
Bolton Penna says that when someone is sentenced for sexual assault, there are many factors. Guidelines are a factor and that differs by each state. Prior record is also a factor and Turner does not have a previous record.