The Criminology Textbook Using Brock Turner's Case As An Example Of Rape Has Been Addressed By Its Publisher

An image of Turner's picture included in a criminal justice textbook's definition of rape went viral this week.

This week, an image went viral of convicted sex offender Brock Turner's picture included in a criminal justice textbook's definition of rape.


The image was posted to Facebook by Hannah Kendall Shuman, a criminology student at Washinton State University, who mused: "He may have been able to get out of prison time but in my Criminal Justice 101 textbook, Brock Turner is the definition of rape, so he's got that goin for him.."

The textbook, Criminal Justice, Second Edition, by Callie Marie Rennison and Mary Dodge, is published by Sage Publishing.

The caption under Turner's photo reads as follows:

Brock Turner, a Stanford student who raped and assaulted an unconscious female college student behind a dumpster at a fraternity party, was recently released from jail after serving only three months. Some are shocked at how short this sentence is. Others who are more familiar with the way sexual violence has been handled in the criminal justice system are shocked that he was found guilty and served any time at all. What do you think?

While many initially questioned the authenticity of the book, both BuzzFeed and Snopes have been able to locate and review copies of the book, which does in fact include the reference to Turner.

Rennison, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver and recipient of the Bonnie S. Fisher Victimology Career Award spoke to her university last year about her work on this textbook.

A major recent way I’ve worked toward [change] is found in our (with Mary Dodge) Sage textbook Introduction to Criminal Justice: Systems, Diversity and Change. Existing criminal justice books have focused on three elements: cops, courts and corrections. They speak little about victims, reflecting how they have effectively been in the shadows of our criminal justice system. In our book, victims are front and center with equal emphasis as cops, courts and corrections. This is the way it should be.

After the news of Turner's photo broke, SAGE Publishing swiftly made a statement on their website, promising to update the textbook in future editions to clarify that Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault — not rape, under California's definition at that time.

The statutory definitions of rape in the State of California (where Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault) differ from those of the FBI. Turner’s actions, as determined by the California jury, fit the standards for the FBI definition of rape, as well as certain other state definitions, but not the California definition as of the time of the final book manuscript. The authors and publisher will further clarify the differing definitions of rape in California compared to the FBI in future reprints of the book.

As stated in the book, Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault under the California Penal Code. At the time Turner was charged and tried, none of these counts constituted the crime of rape, per the definitions then in effect. These three counts were: (1.) PC220(a)(1): assault with intent to commit felony; (2.) PC289(e): sexual penetration when the victim was intoxicated or anesthetized; and (3.) PC289(d): sexual penetration where the victim was unconscious of the nature of the act. The initial felony complaint in Turner’s case included two counts of rape under the California Penal Code (PC261(a)(3); PC261(a)(4)), however both of these counts were dismissed prior to Turner’s trial. These sections of the California Penal Code have since been amended by the California legislature.

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