PALO ALTO, Calif. — A six-month jail sentence for a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has sparked widespread outrage. Critics are saying his sentence, which deviated from sentencing guidelines of two to fourteen years, is far too lenient. While that sentence has generated protests, recall efforts, and conversations about bias in the legal system, it has generated something else within the Pagan community – a call to hex the perpetrator, his father, and the judge who granted the sentence.
Brock Allen Turner, 20, was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault including sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. Turner was arrested on the Palo Alto campus in January 2015 after two graduate students found him thrusting against an unconscious, partially clothed woman behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity party.
The lighter than normal sentence will be served in a county jail rather than the state prison, which is also a deviation from standard sentencing. Judge Aaron Persky said the defendant had “less moral culpability” because he was drunk, and that a light sentence was appropriate since Turner had already suffered from “anxiety” from the intense media attention on the case. There have also been allegations that the judge gave a lighter sentence than the minimum because Persky, like the defendant, is a Stanford alumnus and student athlete.
Adding to the controversy, Dan Turner, father of the Brock Turner, said in a letter to the court that his son is paying a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action.”
The judge, who gave Turner the light sentence, is now facing a recall campaign by a fellow Stanford law professor and a petition supporting a recall has gathered close to 350,000 signatures as of press time.
At the same time, some in the Pagan community have chosen to take a different approach to action.
Melanie Hexen is inviting others to join her June 7 at 10 pm CT to place a hex on Brock Turner, Dan Turner, Judge Persky, while sending love and support to the victim of the attack. The Facebook event says participants can perform the hex in their own home and need only a black candle, a black string, and photos of those to be hexed.Ms. Hexen says the idea came from discussions that she had with her coven sisters about the injustice of the sentencing, the unrepentant nature of Brock Turner, and the comments from Dan Turner equating raping someone with an object to “20 minutes of action.”
Hexen said, “I think it will raise awareness of not only this particular case but of this rape culture we live in.”
She said that the her action is akin to Christians taking action through prayer, and it is a way to bring women together by doing something powerful. “And witches will stand together against injustice.”
The group hopes the hex results in Brock Turner becoming impotent, his father suffering from nightmares, and for the judge to lose his job.
The event, which was created less than 24 hours ago, is now gaining momentum. Over 100 people have said they will participate with many more interested.
Lasara Firefox Allen, author of Jailbreaking the Goddess, said that she’s participating because justice for women is rarely served from within the patriarchy. Allen said, “This gut-wrenching violation that keeps being compounded is an injustice to one woman, and at the same time an injustice to all women. We need to fight for justice with all we have. Magick is a tool we can, and must, wield to bring down the patriarchy. Brick by brick.”
J Setkheni-itw says the action is important even if a person doesn’t believe in magick or prayer:
I see Witches and Pagans whenever this subject comes up talk about how we need to just be patient and let the threefold law or karma take over, that eventually the perpetrator will somehow see the results of their actions and all will be right in the universe. I really don’t want to be judgmental of other peoples’ beliefs, but I feel like anybody with even a minute grasp of history can see that this is not true, that people in power who harm and oppress people are more often than not validated in that behavior and allowed to continue harming and oppressing people.Thousands of rapists have gone on to live lives where they received more sympathy than retribution, including high-profile repeat offenders who live and die rich and famous; am I to believe that all of these people are experiencing some deep internal turmoil that constitutes a watered down karmic response? I absolutely do not.
Pamela Jones says she’s participating because she’s part of the Social Justice Warrior Witchcraft collective of witches, who do periodic workings for social justice. Others, like Nevada Hardy, are joining because they were themselves the victim of a sexual assault and “…know what it feels like to be a victim without a voice.”
There are Pagans critical of hexing or who feel caution is the better course. Jeanine Hazelwood posted on the event. Hazelwood said, “Politely declining, and respectfully pointing out a differing view on the issue. If I am going to put precious energy into a working, it’s going to be to help change the culture that creates asses like these men and helps empower the women they damage. Hexing these idiots may ‘feel good’ but in the end it doesn’t help the victims or prevent this from happening again to someone else.”
While Meagan Angus, who says she’s a Hedge Witch and Urban Shaman, was more ambivalent, “Not sure if I will hex or send white light. Ultimately, even he has to reach enlightenment at some point. But he also needs to be stopped. Same goes for the dad and the defense lawyer.”
Hexen says she isn’t worried about a negative consequence rebounding on her for this working and feels confident of the morality of her actions, “I’m an experienced witch. I fear no rebound in this working. And if I’m to receive some sort of new age karma, I’ll take it for the greater good. I have strong shoulders. And stronger magick.”
When asked why she’s leading this action, Hexen simply said, “Witches do the work that needs to be done.”