Brock Turner emerged pre-dawn Friday from a California jail to a throng of journalists and a spectator who shouted, “Loser!”
The 21-year-old ex-Oakwood swimmer and sexual offender hopped in the back of a white sport utility vehicle and slammed the door. He was silent as he began the journey back to Ohio, which he must make within five days of release in order to register here as a sex offender and begin his three years of parole.
Hours later the protests began outside the jail and, later, outside his home in Sugarcreek Twp., where Turner has asked and received permission to live with his parents.
He re-entered society with shaggy hair, a wrinkled shirt and a large packet of mail clutched under his arm.
“I don’t think there’s any definable, actual threats,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith before Turner’s release, “but there’s a lot of hate.”
He later emerged from the sport utility vehicle in a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, which he wore as television cameras followed him and his parents inside the lobby of a Palo Alto hotel. Asked if he wished to apologize, Turner said nothing.
The protests in California were largely aimed not at Turner, but at Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced the ex-Stanford University student to six months jail time following his conviction in the sexual assault of an unconscious, intoxicated woman on campus in January 2015.
Like many California inmates, Turner served half his sentence due to the state’s rules of good behavior. His time inside jail, Smith said, was spent in protective custody alongside inmates charged with homicide.
Protest leaders in California, including a cohort of U.S. Congress members, urged Persky to resign or face a November 2017 recall election for which support is already building.
“We come here today because there is no justice in the light sentence and early release of Brock Turner,” said U.S. Rep Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. “But we come here together to find justice in the early release of Judge Persky.”
Outside the Turner residence Friday evening, a newspaper sat unopened in the driveway as about a dozen protesters and roughly twice as many reporters stood at the neck of the cul de sac.
A Cincinnati news chopper circled overhead as a neighbor mowed his grass.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said another neighbor as he looked up.
About a block away, neighbors chatted with Sugarcreek Twp. Police Chief Michael Brown, who declined to comment, as a police sergeant watched the armed protesters through a pair of binoculars. Another neighbor walked up to a front porch with a case of Miller Light.
Michele Landis Dauber, the Stanford Law professor who is running the effort to unseat Persky, told the Dayton Daily News earlier this week she did not endorse vigilantism.
“I completely understand caring about the judge more than him,” said protester Daniel Hardin, of Vandalia, with an M4 assault rifle around his shoulder. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to forget about him.”
Asked if he had anything else to add, Hardin briefly paused.
“Welcome back home, Brock.”
KTVU-TV and the Associated Press in San Francisco contributed reporting.