Brock Allen Turner, a former Stanford student, was recently convicted of rape and received a paltry six-month jail sentence (plus probation). His name has been in the headlines not only because of his laughable sentence but also because the survivor of his attack (referred to as Ms. Doe to protect her identity) published the letter that she read aloud to him in court. The letter is here, which I suggest that you read (if you’re able).
I found this part from her letter to be very striking:
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.
This guy is accused of rape. But he’s also a guy who participates in sports and has other human interests! Seriously, where do people learn to write shit like this. Maybe the same place where people who write articles about convicted rapists who use the term “had sex with” instead of “raped”? Just a thought.
Somehow, even after listening to the survivor’s account, the judge only gave Turner six months in jail and three years of probation because he feared the “severe” impact that a harsher sentence would have on Turner.
“The question that I have to ask myself is … Is state prison for this defendant an antidote to that poison?” Perksy said. “Is incarceration in prison the right answer for the poisoning of (the woman’s) life?”
Maybe if the victim was poisoned for real, instead of just raped, the judge would’ve considered a prison sentence more seriously? Who knows.
Unsurprisingly, Turner is planning on appealing the verdict. He also wants to spend his time lecturing college students on the effects of alcohol and “sexual promiscuity,” as if raping an unconscious woman has anything to do with being “promiscuous.” I’ll let Doe speak to this one, as her response is enough to send Turner straight to the Burn Ward:
Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.
Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.
I didn’t expect to read more about this case after Doe’s published letter, but apparently I was wrong, because Turner’s dad wrote a letter too, about how he feels his son is the real victim here. Clearly, we see where the apple doesn’t fall far from the rotten tree.
— Michele Dauber (@mldauber) June 5, 2016
Transcript here (plus my response):
As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.
Wow, going through a rape trial must have been so violating for him! If only he had never been caught, he wouldn’t have to be going through all of these yucky feelings right now! He’s so feeble now, he wouldn’t even rape a fly.
Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.
I can’t help but think of the point in Doe’s letter where she wrote about how she sleeps with a nightlight. How she has nightmares about being touched in the dark. How she couldn’t get to sleep before daylight for three months after she was attacked. But poor Brock, let’s take a minute and cry for the fact that he no longer enjoys his favorite steak.
These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.
It’s not the fact that he’s living with the guilt of raping a woman that haunts him. It’s the verdict. OK then. Also, does Turner think this is the life that Doe dreamed about? Does Turner’s dad think this is the life she worked hard to achieve? At least she was able to get some amount of justice in court, however small it was.
That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action our of his 20 plus years of life.
He was only a rapist for 0.0002% of his life! For some reason, Turner’s dad thought this was a strong argument? And also, referring to the rape of an unconscious woman who suffered severe abrasions and had dirt inside of her body is not even on the same planet as “action.”
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. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015.
Poor guy, all he did was commit one rape, and now he has to suffer for it. Will he ever be able to enjoy a nice steak again?? (Also, did his dad really just say that his actions on the night that he raped someone were not violent?)
Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.
And here we go again with blaming “drinking” and “sexual promiscuity” instead of the man who raped someone. I’m going to be charitable for a minute and say that Turner’s dad is just sticking up for his son because it’s what parents do–we are supposed to love our children unconditionally. But we are also supposed to not let our children grow up to be rapists. We are supposed to teach them about consent and respecting other people’s boundaries.
Nowhere in that letter did Turner’s dad talk about the effect that his son had on Doe, her family, or her future. He would rather go on about how his son only committed (or rather, was caught in the act of) one rape. He wasn’t violent up until the point where he committed that rape! He can use this rape to learn a lesson and teach other kids about… drinking!
Another sad thing about this is that Turner likely won’t even have to serve the whole six months–with credit for good behavior, he will likely be out in three. I wonder if he will have to sleep with a nightlight when he comes home too? Most importantly, will he ever be able to enjoy food???
On a positive note, I’m going to end with Doe’s last two paragraph’s from her letter:
Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save? they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.