Austin Wilkerson, 22, was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow student at a college party. He faced four to 12 years in prison. He got no prison sentence at all.
Instead, Wilkerson, a former student at the University of Colorado, will serve two years
in a jail program that
allows him to leave during the day for work or school. He will also be on probation for 20 years to life and must register as a sex offender.
The sentence has already been decried as extremely lenient. And today, the Guardian has published a scathing, powerful statement from Wilkerson’s victim.
In the statement, the victim said that the assault has impacted her “socially, psychologically, academically, and financially.” She cited debilitating fear of social situations, mental health issues (including a suicide attempt), rising medical bills, and inability to focus on studies given both her health problems and the constant stress of legal proceedings.
“About a month after the assault, I tried to kill myself because of the impact of the sexual assault,” she wrote. “Some days I can’t even get out of bed, let alone do four readings, projects, and study for tests. And no wonder. The rapist made pleasurable things of sex, sleep, and going out traumatic. So it’s no surprise that less pleasurable things like studying are 100 times more difficult.”
The victim has also been blamed for what happened to her.
“Someone in the jury had the audacity to ask me why I didn’t say, ‘No.’ It would be like if someone robbed you and they said, ‘Well you didn’t say no!’ Does a lack of a ‘no’ make the robbery ok? Of course not!” she said. “Even my own mother was victim-blaming. She told me that if I hadn’t been drunk, this wouldn’t have happened […] After all I’ve endured emotionally, physically, psychologically, and financially, the burden of the blame still crashes down on my shoulders.”
Many have noted that the Wilkerson sentence bears a striking resemblance to outcome of the Brock Turner case earlier this year. Turner is the ex-Stanford student was was given six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, though he faced a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
The statement from Wilkerson’s victim also resembles an equally powerful statement written by Turner’s victim and shared on BuzzFeed, where it was read by millions.
The victim in the Wilkerson case chose to end her statement by directly addressing anyone who might sympathize with the perpetrator.
“The rapist CHOSE to ruin his life,” she said. “But […] my life has been ruined without my consent.”
Read the victim’s statement in full over at the Guardian.
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