Outrage continues to grow unabated over the light sentence Brock Turner received following his conviction for a 2015 rape — an act that his father claimed was “20 minutes of action.” According to the Guardian, Brock Turner was a former Stanford University student and member of their swim team who was convicted of the rape of a young woman visiting the area in 2015, and his statement to Judge Aaron Persky clearly demonstrates the man is without remorse.
— HuffPost Canada (@HuffPostCanada) June 8, 2016
“I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school,” an excerpt from Brock Turner’s letter states, though the letter also states that he was “tormented” by thoughts of what happened over a year ago.
It is that statement that many news organizations are pointing to as evidence that Brock Turner is placing blame at least in part to the party culture at Stanford and other universities. While he also made it clear that consuming alcohol was what in part was responsible for his incredibly devastating decisions that irretrievably altered one young woman’s life, it remains clear that Brock Turner still does not have a rock-solid grasp on the horrific nature of what he did.
It is a matter of public record that Carl-Fredrik Arndt and his friend Peter Jonsson, two Swedish students who were cycling by the scene of the crime, intervened in the sexual assault. According to Independent, Brock Turner attempted to run, and it wasn’t until the men tackled him and pinned him that he realized he was well and truly caught.
“The guy stood up then we saw she wasn’t moving still,” Arndt said. “So we called [Brock Turner] out on it. And the guy ran away, my friend Peter chased after him.”
Brock Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. He could have faced 14 years, but Judge Persky deemed that incarceration would have a “severe impact” on him. Since the verdict, a petition calling for Judge Persky to be recalled from the bench has reached over 500,000 signatures.
The problem is that Brock Turner seems not to acknowledge the incredibly violent way in which he raped the young woman, who admitted in her victim impact statement that she’s spent much of the last year wondering if she was at all worth something to someone following the assault.
She was waiting to hear whether or not “That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, who waited a year to figure out if I was worth something.”
The L.A. Times says that Brock Turner’s father, Dan Turner, is likely partly to blame for what happened, largely because of the attitude that his son can do very little wrong. In his letter to the judge, the senior Turner said that his son should not be punished for “20 minutes of action,” seemingly ignoring the overwhelming evidence that demonstrated the anonymous victim was completely unconscious and therefore could not give consent to sex at the time of the assault.
In fact, the father of Brock Turner expounds on the fact that his son’s life is shattered and that it will never be one where he is able to fully realize the goals and dreams he once had. He suggests that his son’s life would be better served not behind bars, but by educating others about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.
Sex between two individuals — even when it is a simple hookup — is about consent. There are no two ways about it. This is something which the media has gone over time and again over the last few years, in particular. If the other party involved says “no,” seems reluctant, or is simply unable to consent, then things need to stop. As the comparison has often been made, you don’t simply hand someone a cup of coffee or tea when they say they don’t want one.
One of the Swedish men who came to the young woman’s rescue often fought tears while recounting what he saw the night of the sexual assault. The young woman admitted in her victim impact statement that while she sleeps with images of two bicycles by her bed — a reminder that there are truly decent people in the world — having to relive the victimization Brock Turner put her through has nearly broken her.
“I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being,” she said. “I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.”
Jezebel also reported that the District Attorney’s office was dismayed by the outcome, as were so many others. “The punishment does not fit the crime,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in an official statement. “The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim’s ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) June 8, 2016
It is unconscionable that Brock Turner and his father would pass this rape off as an issue of great consumption of alcohol or sexual promiscuity. Rape is rape, indeed. Six months is inexcusable for a sexual assault, and regardless of how depressed or anxious Brock Turner is about spending time behind bars, the true victim is the woman who had to wait 18 months to learn that her assaulter would get effectively a slap on the wrist. Dan Turner should take a look at his son, Brock Turner, and wonder how his son truly got to where he is now, rather than blaming everyone and everything else.
[Photo by Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office/AP]