In hopes of persuading a panel of judges to absolve his client of sexual assault charges, Brock Turner's lawyer insisted on Tuesday that the then-19-year-old had been trying to have "outercourse" with the unconscious woman he violated, not intercourse.
Eric S. Multhaup made the defense in a California appeals court, where he appeared without Turner, now 22, who served just three months of a six-month sentence in 2016 for assaulting a female student behind a dumpster the year before. Since his release, Turner and his legal counsel have continued to appeal the jury's guilty verdicts on the three charges that resulted in his sentencing: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated person, sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object.
On Tuesday, Multhaup said the jury lacked "sufficient evidence to support three convictions," in part because Turner had been pursuing "outercourse" with his victim—or sexual contact with someone who was fully clothed.
The panel of judges met his arguments with skepticism.
“I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about,” Justice Franklin D. Elia told Multhaup, according to Mercury News, pointing out that the law requires judges to honor a jury's verdict.
Multhaup also attempted to convince the judges that though Turner's victim may have been drunk, there was "no evidence" to suggest she went from "being incapacitated from alcohol to loss of consciousness."
The California prosecution found this argument dubious as well, pointing out that bystanders who came on the scene "could tell from 30 feet away" that the young woman had been unconscious. The appellate judges will likely deliver their ruling on Turner's latest appeal within the next 90 days.
These kinds of arguments, and others, continue to incite public outrage against Turner, and the judge, Aaron Persky, who delivered the initial sentencing based on Turner's three convictions. Persky was voted off the bench just last month, making him the first California judge to be recalled in more than 80 years.
The vote came off a prolonged campaign primarily led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who, like many others, said the six-month sentence proved Persky had a bias in favor of perpetrators of sexual assault. The maximum sentence for Turner's crimes had been 14 years.
“What we have here is a judge who has repeatedly abused his discretion in order to help out privileged offenders, often athletes, college athletes, who have committed serious violence against women,” she told Glamour last month. "We voted today against impunity for high-status perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic violence."