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Stanford Assault Prompts California to Close Leniency Loophole

California lawmakers have closed a loophole that allowed for more lenient sentences in sexual assault cases if the victim did not resist, according to a report from BBC News.

The move comes after the high-profile assault case in Stanford earlier in the year, which drew harsh criticism for its extreme leniency.

Brock Turner, 20, was given a sentence of six months in jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman.

Turner was found guilty of three felony charges in March. Witnesses said they saw Turner sexually assault the unconscious woman while on the Stanford University campus. Prosecutors were aiming for a six-year prison sentence.

Judge Persky, who handed out the sentence, said he was concerned about the impact of prison on Turner, citing positive character references and his remorse for the assault.

Turner’s father also made headlines after proclaiming that his son should not have been put in jail for “20 minutes of action.”

Turner will be released later this week after serving half of his sentence.

Under California law, the use of force in a sexual assault comes with a mandatory prison sentence. But no mandatory sentence exists if no force is used. In this case, the victim was unable to defend herself because she was unconscious.

State lawmakers voted unanimously to close the loophole and prohibit the use of probation in such cases. While the bill has been passed on to Governor Jerry Brown for approval, the legislation has yet to be signed into law.

Evan Low, assembly member, stated, “Rape is rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist.”

Judge Persky received several death threats after the controversial ruling of Turner’s case, and many were calling for him to resign. Persky now works in the civil division at his own request and will not hear any more criminal cases.