Similar crime, different punishment: Campus rape echoes Brock Turner case


A former student at West Chester University in Pennsylvania was sentenced to at least six years in prison this week after he was convicted of raping a female student in her dorm room.

The school expelled 20-year-old Kyle Vo this year following his conviction on charges that included rape of an unconscious person.

The case has invited comparisons to the much-publicized case of Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student who was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault when witnesses found him on top of an unconscious woman outside a campus fraternity last year.


But Turner was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of probation, a punishment that was widely seen as too lenient and led to a petition to remove Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed it.

Critics said that Turner received a light sentence because he was a wealthy, white athlete at a prestigious university.

Brock Turner is a lucky guy. From a sentencing standpoint, I think what he did was egregious.

— Martin Mullaney, attorney

Vo, an Asian American, was a 19-year-old freshman at the time of his crime last year. With good behavior, he will serve six years, then five years of probation. Like Turner, he will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Vo’s attorney, Martin Mullaney, noted the differences in the sentences.

“Brock Turner is a lucky guy,” he said. “From a sentencing standpoint, I think what he did was egregious.

“The Brock Turner case is much more severe than what happened in this case,” he said.

According to the police report in the Vo case, the victim said she was with friends in her dorm room when Vo showed up with a water bottle filled with vodka. She took several shots. As the night went on, Vo became “touchy” and then raped her.

“The victim stated when she told Vo to stop, he replied, ‘No, baby, its OK,’ ” the police report said.

After Vo left, the victim told a friend and they contacted dorm supervisors and together reported the incident to police.

The victim said she was drifting in and out of consciousness during the rape. But the defense said she was cognizant of what was happening and that the sex was consensual.

“Pennsylvania’s got a tough standard for unconsciousness,” Mullaney said in an interview.

In his telling, his client and the woman, also a freshman, had sex while two other people were in the room. At one point, one woke up and asked the woman whether she was OK, to which she replied that she was.

The victim’s attorney, Andrea Cardamone, said in a memo reported by the Daily Local News that on the night of the rape, while Vo was present, the victim talked about her desire to refrain from having sex until she was married.

“Her virginity mattered to her,” Cardamone wrote. “The defendant saw an opportunity to gratify his sexual desire and he took it.”


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