Brock Turner appeals assault conviction to avoid sex offender registration
© NBC News

The Stanford swimmer at the center of a high-profile rape case in 2015 is appealing his sexual assault conviction. 

Brock Turner's attorney is arguing that his client did not intend to rape his victim because they were engaged in "sexual outercourse," a local NBC affiliate reports.

"If he wins the appeal he no longer will have a conviction so he will no longer have a criminal record, and he won't be required to register as a sex offender," legal analyst Dean Johnson told NBC.

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Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexual penetration of an unconscious person with a foreign object. 

Though he was sentenced to six months in jail, he was released after three months in 2016, reigniting a conversation about lenient punishments for some who are found guilty of sexual assault. 

The California judge who sentenced Turner to six months in jail was recalled in June, making him the first California judge to be recalled in more than 85 years.

Turner's case first attracted national attention when the wrenching testimony of his victim, Jane Doe, became public.

Speaking in court, she graphically recounted Turner raping her behind a dumpster on Stanford's campus.

"My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition," she said, according to a transcript first published by BuzzFeed. "I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either." 

She also spoke about the traumatic process of pressing charges.

"After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s ... an athlete, right?" she said. "They were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact — why take it into account? Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now." 

After Turner was released from jail, he was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

His attorney is appealing this order, arguing that Turner was not intending to rape his victim because he was fully dressed and engaging in "outercourse," which attorney Eric Multhaup described as a "version of safe sex," NBC reported.

The appeals court has 90 days to issue a ruling.

"I absolutely don't understand what you are talking about," Justice Franklin Elia reportedly told Multhaup in court. 

She said the law "requires the jury verdict to be honored."