Ex-Stanford swimmer performed 'sexual outercourse,' not rape, lawyer argues in appeal

A lawyer for former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner argued this week that his client's attempted rape conviction should be overturned because he was practicing "sexual outercourse," which the lawyer described as a form of "safe sex."

Turner never intended to rape an unconscious woman, he said. The lawyer cited witness accounts that Turner was "violently thrusting but fully clothed" when two Swedish graduate students found him on top of a half-naked, intoxicated woman in 2015.

But at least one member of a three-justice appelate panel wasn't buying attorney Eric Malthaup's argument.

"I absolutely don't understand what you are talking about," Justice Franklin D. Elia told the attorney in a California appeals court in San Jose.

"I absolutely don't understand what you are talking about."

- Justice Franklin D. Elia

The panel has 90 days to issue a ruling. If Turner wins his appeal, the Ohio resident may be able to erase his status as a lifetime Tier III sex offender in the state, the Dayton Daily News reported. The designation is Ohio's highest for a sex offender, the report said.

California Assistant Attorney General Alisha Carlile argued that Multhaup had presented a "far-fetched version of events" that didn't support the facts of the case.

Turner did not attend the appeals court session in California, the newspaper reported. But his parents submitted separate objections to his sex offender status, the Daily News reported.

“Brock will have to register at the highest tier, which means he is on the same level as a pedophile/child molester,” his mother, Carleen Turner, wrote.

“Brock will have to register at the highest tier, which means he is on the same level as a pedophile/child molester.”

- Carleen Turner, defendant's mother

Added father Dan Turner, “The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations.”

“The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations.”

- Dan Turner, defendant's father

Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman outside an on-campus fraternity house in 2015. After a trial in June 2016, a jury convicted Turner of sexual assault, and Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to six months in jail.

The sentence was widely criticized as too lenient.

After the victim's 7,200-word letter to Turner that she read in the courtroom during sentencing was published online, the case drew national outrage. The case exploded on social media and ignited a debate about campus rape and the criminal justice system.

"I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives," she wrote. "You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect."

FILE - This June 27, 2011 file photo shows Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who drew criticism for sentencing former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The California judge has recused himself from making his first key decision in another sex case. The Mercury News reported Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 that Persky filed a statement saying that some people might doubt that he could be impartial. The judge is the target of a recall campaign after he sentenced a former Stanford swimmer to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman. (Jason Doiy/The Recorder via AP, File)

Voters recalled Judge Aaron Persky in June, after his decision in the Brock Turner case was considered too lenient.  (Associated Press)

Santa Clara County voters recalled Persky in June after a campaign to unseat him raised more than $2 million in nationwide contributions. Critics of the judge and the sentence said Turner's short jail term underscored how law enforcement minimized sexual assault and highlighted how privileged defendants who can afford private attorneys often fare better in court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.