BY BILL HUTCHINSON
An attorney for a former Stanford University swimmer found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated woman in 2015 argued the conviction should be overturned because his client was fully clothed and wanted only “outercourse” from the victim, not intercourse.
Brock Turner’s lawyer Eric Multhaup made the novel argument Tuesday in a state appellate court in San Jose, California, which appeared only to confuse the three-judge panel.
“I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about,” Justice Franklin Elia told Multhaup.
Multhaup tried to explain in his 15-minute argument. He said his term “outercourse” referred to Turner having his clothes on when he was caught by two Swedish grad students on top of the victim outside a fraternity party on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, California, on Jan. 10, 2015.
A Santa Clara County jury convicted Turner in March 2016 of three felony charges: Assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
Multhaup said that because Turner was fully clothed and his genitals were not exposed when he was confronted, the prosecution’s case fell short of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Turner intended to rape the woman.
He said the jury based its decision on “speculation” that Turner’s intent was rape.
“They filled in the blanks in the prosecution’s case,” Multhaup argued. “That’s imagination. That’s speculation.”
Deputy Attorney General Alisha Carlile argued that the conviction should stand, telling the judges that Santa Clara County prosecutors presented sufficient evidence in the high-profile case and the jury reached its verdict “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The appellate court is expected to make its decision within 90 days.
Trial Judge Aaron Persky drew criticism when he sentenced Turner in June 2016 to six months in county jail, based on the recommendation of the probation department. Prosecutors had asked for a six-year prison sentence.
Turner, now 22, served three months in jail and was released on Sept. 2, 2016. Following his release, he returned to his hometown of Oakwood, Ohio, where he registered as a sex offender.
Persky’s sentence of Turner triggered widespread outrage and a recall campaign, in which voters in Santa Clara County removed him from the bench in the June California primary election.