Woman in Stanford sexual-assault case testifies | News | Palo Alto Online |


Woman in Stanford sexual-assault case testifies

Former Stanford swimmer, accused of rape, returns to Palo Alto for preliminary hearing

The woman whom former Stanford University student Brock Turner allegedly raped on campus in January appeared in court in Palo Alto on Monday for a preliminary hearing, giving sometimes emotional testimony about what she recalls happened that night.

Turner, then a 19-year-old all-star swimmer, was arrested early in the morning of Jan. 18 after two Stanford graduate students saw him allegedly assaulting the woman outside a fraternity house, chased him when he ran away and detained him until police arrived. Turner denied the allegations in a police report released in January, telling police that his "intentions were not to try to rape a girl without her consent."

Turner pleaded not guilty to the five felony charges the Santa Clara County District's Attorney filed against him in January: rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.

The woman, whose name the Weekly has changed to protect her privacy, is not a Stanford student.

Her appearance in court Monday – at which Turner was also present – comes at a time of controversy and upheaval around sexual assault at Stanford. The university is currently without a permanent, dedicated Title IX coordinator following the recent resignation of Catherine Criswell.

It is also facing two U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights' investigations for Title IX violations and was heavily criticized last week for a campus climate survey that found 1.9 percent of all Stanford students have been sexually assaulted – a figure student activists and faculty have questioned as being too low and not representative of the scope of the problem.

Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci, who works with the county's sexual-assault unit, questioned "Emily Doe" for about an hour at the Palo Alto Courthouse on Monday, as well as two other witnesses – Emily's sister, Tiffany, and one of the graduate students who intervened that night, Peter Jonsson.

Kianerci's questions walked Emily through her activities earlier that day; her plans to attend the party at the Kappa Alpha (KA) fraternity with Tiffany and Tiffany's friend, who is a Stanford student; events leading up to their arrival at the party; and Emily's actions at the party.

Emily described how, as an older college graduate who had never attended a fraternity party at her own college, she was reluctant to attend the party in the first place but wanted to spend time with her younger sister, who was visiting for the weekend. She recounted the amount and kind of alcohol she drank at her home before leaving for the party with her younger sister and two of her sister's friends. She remembered becoming "buzzed" and "silly" after drinking but not feeling out of control, she said.

Once at the party, she said one of Tiffany's friends found a handle of vodka from which they drank. Her sister later testified that she thought the handle was unopened and completely full. Emily drank some of the vodka, but Tiffany did not, they testified. Emily described her level of intoxication as "so drunk that I didn't think I was drunk."

Emily and her sister also drank beers that three men gave them, they said. Both Emily and Tiffany identified Monday one of those three men as Brock Turner, who sat in front of each of them in the courtroom, next to his attorney, with his head down throughout the sisters' testimonies.

Emily said she never interacted directly with Turner.

Tiffany, however, testified that at some point in the night, after they met, Turner grabbed her waist and tried to kiss her. She said she laughed nervously and joked about it with her friends afterwards. She did not feel unsafe, she said, and it simply "(felt) like what can happen at a college party." She said she never said anything directly to Turner, nor did he speak to her.

Tiffany testified that later, when she was talking with a friend, Turner again approached her, cut in between them and tried to kiss her. She said she turned her face away and he kissed her cheek. She, again, joked about it with her friends, thinking it was just "weird" and "strange" but not feeling unsafe for any reason, she said.

Emily said that she doesn't remember talking to anyone or going back inside after drinking part of her beer with Turner and the other two men. Tiffany had left briefly to take care of a friend and said she couldn't find Emily when she returned to KA, calling her multiple times, searching for her for an hour and a half, and opening the door to every room in the house. Tiffany eventually went home for the night with two other friends.

The next thing Emily remembers, she said, is waking up in a bed in a hospital hallway several hours after the party.

In court on Monday, Kianerci pressed Emily, asking her again if she remembered anything that happened in between those two events. Emily responded, "No," and started to cry.

When she first woke up in Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Emily said that she saw blood on her hands and a loose Band-Aid on her hand and elbows. She thought she had fallen down and perhaps been taken somewhere on campus, until a Stanford administrator and police officer approached her and said, "We have reason to believe you've been sexually assaulted."

"I thought maybe they had the wrong person," Emily said Monday.

She consented to a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam, a medical exam administered following a potential sexual assault.

Kianerci also asked Emily to identify two items that she did not have once she woke up at the hospital – her cell phone and underwear -- in a photograph of an area near KA. Kianerci submitted this photograph, others of the area and screenshots of Emily's call log and text messages from that night as evidence.

Turner's attorney, Michael Armstrong of Palo Alto firm Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, asked mostly clarifying questions of both Emily and Tiffany from their previous testimonies.

Kianerci also questioned Jonsson, one of the two graduate students who stopped the alleged assault. Biking on a path on his way to the KA party with a friend, another graduate student, he said he saw a "couple" on the ground near KA, with one person on top of another person in what appeared to be a consensual sexual interaction. It didn't at first seem alarming until Jonsson and his friend got closer and he noticed that "the person below wasn't moving at all."

Jonsson said as he approached, the person on top started "thrusting," and this movement "intensified," while the person below lay motionless. He approached the two individuals and said something to the effect of, "Is everything all right here?" He said at that point he saw the face of the woman, lying below a man and noticed that she looked asleep. Her eyes were closed, he said.

Kianerci asked Jonsson if she looked "lifeless."

"Yes," he replied.

Jonsson said after he asked, "Is everything all right here?" Turner got up, made eye contact with him and backed away. Jonsson said he asked Turner, "What the f--- are you doing? She's unconscious."

Armstrong later asked why the second part of this comment – "she's unconscious" – had not been reported to police in previous interviews. Jonsson said he couldn't remember whether he told them that specifically or not.

Jonsson said Turner didn't respond to his question and started running away. Jonsson ran after him, tackling and restraining him on the ground by sitting on his chest with his knees on Turner's arms. He said there was a struggle, and Jonsson's friend followed and held Turner's legs. The friend asked Turner, "Do you think this is OK?" Turner didn't respond, Jonsson said.

He said Turner's clothing did not look disheveled. He never saw the girl come to or move, he said.

When police arrived, they found Emily lying on her side behind a dumpster between KA and Jerry House, another student residence, at 658 Lomita Court, according to a police report. Her dress was pulled up to her waist, and her underwear was wadded up on the ground about half a foot away, according to the police report. There was also an open beer can nearby, according to the report. As two police officers checked the woman, a man told them, "They have him pinned down over there."

Police detained Turner, who smelled strongly of alcohol, according to the police report. The officer who wrote the report said Turner's "pants seemed to be disheveled around his crotch area. ... He had dirt on his face and shirt as if he had been in a physical struggle."

Turner told police that he had met the woman earlier in the night at the KA party. He consciously decided to engage in sexual activity with her and that "she also seemed to enjoy the activity," the report reads. He told police at the time that he didn't know the woman, did not get her name and wouldn't be able to describe her or recognize her if he saw her again.

Turner stated that he never took his pants off and that they did not have intercourse.

He said he started to feel unwell, so he got up and was suddenly tackled by a "group of guys." He denied running away from them, the police report states.

Turner told police his "intentions were not to try to rape a girl without her consent."

"He just wanted to 'hook up' with a girl," the report states.

Turner withdrew from Stanford shortly after the Jan. 18 incident and is not allowed to re-enroll or return to campus.

The preliminary hearing will continue tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Palo Alto Courthouse at 9 a.m.

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16 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Jane Stanford had it right, no booze on campus. This would not have happened if everybody had not been drunk.

11 people like this
Posted by Kate
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm

This story is unnecessarily lurid, something I would expect to find in the National Enquirer, not a community newspaper. I don't see the journalistic purpose in providing so many details. It's just click bait.

34 people like this
Posted by Value
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2015 at 9:30 pm

I think the details are helpful for other students to understand how these things can happen, and to consider how they can be avoided. While I am not in any way blaming the victim, the fact is that it is unsafe for women to become intoxicated at parties. Most men will not take advantage, but it only takes one.

I'm not blaming or judging; I know I dodged many bullets in college. When I think of how many times something like this could have happened to me I thank God for protecting me.

I pray "Emily" can work through this and recognize this was a single event, and does not define her as a person.

Please, Emily, do not let this define you. Take back your identity and have an awesome life!!!

21 people like this
Posted by Emme
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

Seriously? The comments here just go to show how acceptable Rape is here. The 1st one thinks This is Alcohol's fault? And the second dismisses RAPE as taking advantage? Next someone is going to say "boys will be boys" or "what was she wearing" Holy Smokes people! Rape is Rape and this is horrifying.

18 people like this
Posted by Value
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:28 am


Your conclusion is completely off base. No one is suggesting that rape is acceptable, not by any means. The point is that there are bad people out there and we are not going to eradicate them over night, and probably not ever, at least not completely. The first line of defense is women protecting themselves.

Crimes against children are also reprehensible and unacceptable, but that does not mean that we should not teach our children how to avoid being victims.

If you don't think women should takes steps to protect themselves, what is your alternate proposal to stop rape from happening? How do you propose that we prevent rape from happening RIGHT NOW, starting today?

3 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

The article says "She consented to a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam, a medical exam administered following a potential sexual assault."

The article also says "Turner stated that he never took his pants off and that they did not have intercourse."

So it might be useful to reveal to us the result of the SART exam.

2 people like this
Posted by Better Sober
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by DT North
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Emme - of course nobody is saying any of it is OK, but of course alcohol is to blame (and I'm certainly not saying I never drink, and looking back on my college days... well I'm glad I survived unscathed). It is naive to think that it isn't a factor. [Portion removed.] I have young daughters and I hope they make good decisions in college and after. All we can do is hope we teach them well and that they listen. And we've all made some bad decisions in our youth and many of us just been lucky that it all worked out.

8 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Don't blame alcohol, blame the rapist (and I understand that the accused hasn't been found guilty, so I'm speaking in general terms). Alcohol can be a *factor*, not a cause.

4 people like this
Posted by @DT North
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

So rape is a "bad decision"?

Words fail me.

1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Historically, SC Co has a goof record in successfully prosecuting sex crimes. Looking at the list of charges, it looks like the county has a good case. This isn't just a sexual assault case, it's also a rape case, which isn't easy to successfully prosecute.

4 people like this
Posted by True Blue
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm

True Blue is a registered user.

Alcohol is not to blame, the perpetrator is. Just like when your house is robbed, the robber is to blame. So now that we all acknowledge who is to blame, how many of you leave your house unlocked? Locking your house a means of protecting oneself against a crime. Does it make the act or robbery OK, or acceptable, no. But yoy still want to protect yourself against a crime.

5 people like this
Posted by Chill96
a resident of Woodside
on Feb 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Chill96 is a registered user.

I have told each of my girls heading off to college:
If you walk in front of a semi truck expect to get hit. Don't walk in front of a semi. If you go to a frat party expect to get drunk, drugged and raped. Don't go to a frat party

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