Who is Brock Turner?

Should Brock Turner be referred to as a rapist?

Brock Turner, 21, made headlines earlier this year after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after a college party on Stanford University's campus in January 2015. 

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News outlets reported on Turner's trial, his conviction, and later, his release from jail after serving only three months behind bars -- half of his six-month sentence.

But there was one dominating factor that many headlines had in common: Turner was repeatedly referred to as "Stanford swimmer," "former Stanford swimmer" and "ex-Stanford swimmer."

Most articles acknowledged Turner's athletic status before describing the details of the crime he committed.

Turner, who will not be returning to Stanford and has been indefinitely banned by USA Swimming, was convicted of three felony charges: sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object and sexual assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman.

Turner was initially charged with rape of an intoxicated person and rape of an unconscious person, but those charges were dropped at a preliminary hearing, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said. Prosecutors dropped those charges after receiving the results of DNA testing on the rape kit, the Los Angeles Times reported.

While Turner did digitally penetrate the victim, the fact that he used his fingers and not a sexual organ matters legally.

And as TIME points out, the definition of rape varies state to state. 

In California, where the crime occurred, rape is defined as "someone using "physical force, intimidation, duress, or threats to persuade the victim to engage in sexual intercourse." 

Other types of sexual assault, including those for which Turner was convicted, are defined and categorized as different crimes.

Also noted by TIME and another factor that muddies the definition of "rape": The FBI defines rape as "penetration, no mater how slight, of (male and female sexual organs) with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."

The Intercept has one theory about why the word "rapist" has been avoided in most cases: "Media organizations may be exercising caution so as not to misidentify Turner's crime."

So, some would say news organizations are just aiming to play it safe.

Turner is a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.

Read more at TIME.

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