It’s understandable that a parent would want to defend their child, even when that child has committed a heinous crime, but Dan A. Turner, father of Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer convicted of rape, took that defense to the extreme, writing a completely clueless letter disparaging the treatment his son — now a convicted rapist who got the lightest of sentences — received after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Turner’s biggest problem? His son will never be his “happy go lucky self” again. And all due to “20 minutes of action.”
If you just read that last line and felt like your eyeballs were going to pulse right out of your face and pool down your chest in a gooey rage, you’re not the only one. The letter, which has drawn outrage from all sides, only adds insult to injury when you consider the fact that Brock Turner only received a six month sentence for raping a woman who had passed out at a frat party last year. That’s a deep cut down from the 14 years he was facing.
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” Dan A. Turner wrote in a letter arguing that his son should receive probation, not jail time. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” the letter says, noting that the former Olympic hopeful is now a registered sex offender.
Okay, but that “20 minutes of action” (kudos to Turner for finding a new low when referring to sexual assault in the worst way) wasn’t a consensual encounter. It was a rape that occurred behind a dumpster, and it had devastating consequences for the victim. The fact that Brock Turner won’t be smiling for a while — because of a crime he willingly committed — isn’t on the victim or the court system. It’s on the swimmer himself. And his father’s assertions that it’s not Brock’s fault that the rape happened — Turner notes that his son had a hard time fitting in at school and that Stanford’s a hard place to be — become even more upsetting when Turner begins to write about his son’s good qualities, things he thinks are an important way to distinguish his son from actual rapists who are bad people (and don’t like to cook).
“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression,” the father wrote. “You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. 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 to get his favorite steak for him. … Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.”
The letter, which goes on in this vein, attempts to blame everyone but Brock Turner for what happened. Unfortunately, The Washington Post notes that “it worked” and likely contributed to the lenient sentence that Brock Turner received. Like his father, the judge presiding over the case (now facing a recall) decided that a lengthy prison sentence would have too much of a negative impact on the swimmer, and decided to be lax in his sentencing due to the younger Turner’s lack of a criminal record and “lack of danger to others,” even though the Stanford student had already exhibited his ability to be dangerous by raping someone.
One of the biggest criticisms of the letter, despite how absolutely and painfully awful it is, is the fact that neither Turner ever acknowledged who the true victim in this case is, the woman who was actually assaulted. In fact, in a letter that the victim wrote to her attacker, she points out that it’s not his life that’s been ruined, it’s hers.
“You said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life,” she wrote.
“Ruin a life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. …
District Attorney Jeff Rosen is also outraged by the letter that Dan A. Turner wrote. Not only because of the way that Turner frames the rape, but because neither Turner is accepting any responsibility for the crimes that have been committed, despite the fact that there’s substantial evidence that Brock Turner “preyed upon” and “displayed violence” toward the victim.
According to Rosen, the one good thing to have come out of this case — he refers to it as a silver lining — is the fact that the victim’s letter was so powerful and resonant, giving a voice to all those who had experienced sexual assault, but may not have been able to speak out. Let’s hope that Turner’s letter is remembered as an embarrassing footnote in this case and that the victim’s letter (which you can read here) continues to be spread as an important reminder of what a serious and devastating crime sexual assault is.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped more people from writing increasingly infuriating letter of support for Turner. The Cut reports that one of Turner’s friends, Leslie Rasmussen, has also penned a missive refuting claims that Turner could have been a rapist because he was “always so sweet.” She believes that both the victim and political correctness are to blame for sexual assault. After all, she writes, it’s not like Brock Turner kidnapped and tortured his victim. He was just an idiot kid.
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.
This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgement.
It’s important to note that Rasmussen’s beliefs aren’t just idiotic, but also not based in any kind of fact. According to statistics published by RAINN, four out of five sexual assaults are committed by non-strangers; 82 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone that the victim knows.