Brock Turner: Childhood Friend Apologizes For Defending Him

Leslie Rasmussen, childhood friend of former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, the man recently convicted of three counts of sexual assault, apologized this week for defending his character.

Cosmopolitan reports that Rasmussen, part of the all-female, Ohio-based indie band, Good English, wrote a letter to Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky after Turner was charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious victim behind a frat party dumpster in 2015. Rasmussen explained that she felt it unfair to base Turner’s fate for the next ten or so years of his life on a girl who “doesn’t remember anything.”

“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists?”

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The letter apparently costed her dearly. Her band was taken off the lineup for numerous upcoming gigs, including the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, a June 17 show at the Rumba Cafe in Ohio, and more.

While she initially defended her decision to support Turner, even taking to Facebook to post an in-depth reason behind her loyalty, Rasmussen has apparently changed her mind. She took to Facebook again, and wrote that she failed to acknowledge the pain her childhood friend caused to the victim and her loved ones.

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“I did not acknowledge strongly enough the severity of Brock’s crime and the suffering and pain that his victim endured, and for that lack of acknowledgement, I am deeply sorry. I fully understand the outrage over Brock’s sentencing and my statement. I can only say that I am committed to learning from this mistake. I am 20 years old, and it has never been more clear to me that I still have much to learn.”

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Rasmussen also indicated that she was among 39 people who defended Turner, and was asked to detail how long she knew him and aspects of his character. She admitted, however, that she was never asked to make assumptions about what happened, which prompted her apology.

Dayton Daily News reports that Turner’s high school guidance counselor also apologized for defending him. Kelly Owens of Oakwood City Schools issued a public apology last week through the district’s superintendent, Kyle Ramey, which read,

“In the statement I submitted to the judge during the criminal proceedings and before sentencing referencing Brock’s character, I made a mistake. Of course he should be held accountable. I pray for the victim, her family and all those affected by this horrible event. I am truly sorry for the additional pain my statement has caused. I tell my students they have to be accountable, and Brock is no exception.”

Owens’ defense letter indicated that she thought Turner was a kind, helpful student, and a “a young man of character, integrity” who “seeks opportunities to help others, and is absolutely undeserving of the outcome.”

Although Turner was ultimately convicted of three counts of sexual assault, his sentence of only six months in jail has sparked outrage across the nation, including Stanford graduates who protested the former swimmer during graduation this week. One student held a sign that read Stanford “protects rapists.” Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns made a speech at the graduation, and said that he hopes one day that victims’ statements about sexual assault will be taken more seriously.

“Look, I am the father of four daughters. If someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, take it effing seriously and listen to them. Maybe someday we’ll make the survivor’s eloquent statement as important as Dr. King’s letter from the Birmingham jail.”

Brock Turner may end up only serving three months out of his six-month sentence, according to a document provided by the Santa Clara County’s Department of Corrections.

[Photo by Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department]