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Breaking: Turner Pleads Guilty to 4 Counts of Rape in On-Campus Sexual Assaults

Zachary Turner | The Wright State Guardian

The Greene County Common Pleas Court has sentenced former Wright State University (WSU) student Zachary J. Turner, 29, after pleading guilty to four counts of rape. 

Sentencing

Turner

Convicted on four counts of rape, the 29-year-old former psychology student will now serve at least 14 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 19 ½ years.

Upon his release from prison, Turner will be required to serve five years of post-release control supervision. 

Turner must also register as a sex offender every 90 days for the remainder of his life. 

Turner, originally indicted on four counts of abduction and rape and two counts of each sexual assault and kidnapping, initially pleaded not guilty by means of insanity early on in his case. In January 2021, Turner’s plea was thrown out, deeming him fit to stand trial.

Prosecuting Attorney David D. Hayes announced the guilty pleas and sentencing on June 2 before Judge Michael A. Buckwalter at the Greene County Common Pleas Court. According to court records, the abduction and kidnapping charges were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Crime

According to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, while enrolled as a student at WSU in October 2020, Turner forcibly raped three separate adult female victims while he resided in the on-campus Village Apartments. He is currently banned from campus. 

Off Campus Apartments | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

The victims disclosed that Turner used physical restraints and made threats with a knife while committing the sexual assaults. 

During the investigation in conjunction with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and West Chester Police Department, a fourth adult female victim was later identified. The fourth victim was able to recount the sexual assault and also said that Turner used physical restraints while perpetuating the sexual assault against her.

Making the conviction secure, these women provided crucial evidence to the case, the prosecutor’s office expressed in a released statement.

Reactions

Turner’s actions greatly impacted the Wright State community. Those who know Turner or were his neighbors were especially shocked at his actions. 

“I’ve been living in The Village for four years now,” a Village resident wishing to remain anonymous said. “I first met Mr. Turner last year when he approached me while I was out front of building 2050. He asked me about a game I was playing and proceeded to inquire about selling me prescription pills and how he was low on cash at the time. Being that this was the first time we had ever spoken, I was alarmed and told him I didn’t need any of that in my life and proceeded to walk back into the building.” 

“It’s really heartbreaking to know what happened to the victims, and that is just horrible. Even at a place as safe as WSU, things can happen… I’m happy that justice will be carried out in his sentencing.”

This source has been kept anonymous to assure their safety.

The Wright State Guardian requested a comment from Wright State but has not received a response.

Aftermath

“It took a great deal of courage for these victims to come forward, and Turner would not be going to prison were it not for that courage,” said Greene County Prosecutor David Hayes.

Hayes also applauded the investigation by the Wright State University Department of Public Safety and Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, specifically Investigator Fred Meadows, Victim Witness Advocates Rebecca Walsh and Michelle White and Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Michele S.H. Henne and Charles W. Morrison.

When previously asked about safety on campus, the university directed this publication to an informational safety bulletin that reminded all students of university policy regarding sexual activities and safety tips such as trusting your instincts and using caution on dating websites.

Title IX

Wright State has a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based violence under Title IX, which helps these crimes come to light while further assisting sexual assault victims. Those needing to report gender-based violence happening on WSU’s campus can report incidents anonymously to the Office of Inclusive Excellence at either 1-888-353-3783 or wright.ethicspoint.com.

All emergencies should be directed to the Department of Public Safety at 937-775-2111 or 911.

Jamie Naylor

Contributing Writer

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