The father of a convicted rapist whose shockingly lenient sentence has already provoked international outrage is now saying that his son’s sentence is unreasonably severe because his son has “never been violent to anyone,” including the woman he raped.
In a letter to Judge Aaron Persky, Dan Turner wrote an impassioned letter pleading for even greater leniency for his son Brock, who was sentenced to serve 3 to 6 months in a county jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious female student behind a dumpster on the Stanford campus. In the letter, Mr. Turner says that the verdict has already taken a severe emotional toll upon his son, which is a “steep price to pay for twenty minutes of action in his twenty plus years of life”.
Mr. Turner goes on to assert that his son “has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th,” seeming to suggest that the act of sexual assault is not in itself an act of violence.
The letter was shared on Twitter by Michele Dauber, who is a Stanford law professor and who has helped draft new university protocol for penalizing sexual assault.
Brock Turner could have been sentenced to fourteen years in state prison for his crimes, but prosecutors asked Judge Persky to only give him six. Instead, Persky drew outrage from activists and victim’s advocates around the world for only sentencing Turner to six months in a county jail, with the possibility of getting out in half that time with good behavior. Persky explained that Turner, formerly a champion swimmer at the prestigious Stanford University, would be severely impacted by spending time in prison.
“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said, citing Turner’s age and lack of criminal history.
“I think he will not be a danger to others,” the judge continued.
Brock Turner was arrested in January of 2015 on charges of sexual assault when two graduate students passing by on bicycles spotted him assaulting an unconscious woman who’d been mostly undressed. The bicyclists intervened and stopped Turner when he tried to flee the scene until police arrived, where they tearfully described what they’d witnessed. Police reported that the woman was “completely unresponsive,” partially clothed, and that her blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit.
Turner denied guilt throughout the investigation and trial despite the overwhelming evidence against him, and expressed no remorse at any time, admitting only to the mistake of getting intoxicated.
The now 23 year-old victim, whose name has been kept from the public for her privacy, read a stirring letter to her attacker at the time of his sentencing on Thursday. The transcript of this reading, which begins “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” has been viewed on Buzzfeed over four million times.
The woman spoke about the horror of her experience, the degradation of enduring rape tests at the hospital, the harrowing investigation, the pain of having to tell her family about her attack and pleading with them not to read about it in the news, the attacks upon her character and the way Turner’s high-priced lawyers tried to spin her story to make the rape sound consensual. She decried rape culture and pleaded with the judge to send a strong message in this highly-publicized case.
“We cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault,” the woman said. “The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly. We should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error.”
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