In what has to be one of the best moves this writer has seen coming out of USA Swimming after being around the sport for decades, on Friday, the governing body of the sport banned convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner for life. In a statement to USA Today, USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said:
According to a USA Swimming spokesman, Turner was not a member of the organization at the time he sexually assaulted the victim in January 2015.
“Brock Turner’s membership with USA Swimming expired at the end of the calendar year 2014,” USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said in an email to USA TODAY Sports. “He was not a member at the time of his crime or since then. USA Swimming doesn’t have any jurisdiction over non-members.
“Brock Turner is not a member of USA Swimming and, should he apply, he would not be eligible for membership. … Had he been a member, he would be subject to the USA Swimming Code of Conduct. USA Swimming strictly prohibits and has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct, with firm Code of Conduct policies in place, and severe penalties, including a permanent ban of membership, for those who violate our Code of Conduct.”
Rape certainly falls under that category. (More from USA Swimming’s code of conduct here.)
The people speak
This move from USA Swimming comes along with growing outrage at the lightness of the sentence handed down by a California judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. Turner got only six months in a county jail with the potential for early parole and registration as a sex offender, as opposed to up to fourteen years in prison. The judge claimed that Turner’s criminal record and potential did not warrant such a harsh sentence. (Rumor has it, it was to protect Turner from the inmates in an actual prison.)
Since the ruling earlier in the week, Brock Turner’s face, along with a short explanation of what he did, raping an unconscious woman, has been plastered all over the internet and social media outlets. This fed the rage that a judge would consider a slap on the wrist to be an acceptable punishment for the victimization of a young woman and the pain she described in a letter read in open court. Turner’s truly fast times as a competitive swimmer were considered to be part of the reason why the judge ruled lightly. With the lifetime ban – including being a coach of affiliated teams (that’s pretty much all of them), if you read through the code book – USA Swimming has made that aspect of Turner’s life moot.
Swimmers must be USA Swimming members in order to compete in any USA Swimming event, which includes the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials, the meet that selects the Olympic team every four years.
Swimmers aren’t always straight-laced, and, having been one of them for a while, as well as running the seeding system at invitationals, competitive swimmers can be pretty bratty (worse than baseball pitchers, actually), and there are those that try to get around the doping rules, but crime is completely unacceptable within the community. Kudos to Mr. Leightman for this swift ruling.
Cover image from Christianpost.com.