A letter in opposition to last week’s sentencing of Brock Turner, an ex-Stanford student convicted of rape, claims that Turner is not a “real rapist.”
Turner was sentenced to six months in a county jail and three years probation — as ruling local officials say is woefully lenient — for sexually assaulting an unconscious, intoxicated woman outside a campus frat party last January. The letter comes from Leslie Rasmussen, a friend of 20-year-old Turner, who blames both the victim and the university system for Turner’s penalty. She says the case is a result of “worrying about being politically correct every second of the day.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten[-plus] years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges,” she writes in the letter, which was shared on Twitter Monday morning. However, Rasmussen continues, she is not blaming the victim directly, “because that isn’t right.”
— Michele Dauber (@mldauber) June 6, 2016
Rasmussen goes on to blame the university for marketing itself as a party school that encourages the kind of drinking that led to Turner’s crime, as if he had no choice in his decision to sexually assault the 23-year-old woman.
“I am so sick of hearing these young men are monsters when really, you are throwing barely 20-sometimes into these camp-like university environments,” she writes. “These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink…and having clouded judgment.”
Rasmussen writes that this instance, in which Turner was found “thrusting” himself atop an unconscious woman in an alleyway, 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,” she writes. “I know for a fact that Brock is not one of these people.”
The letter was posted on Twitter by Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor involved in updating the university’s adjudication process for sexual assault cases. Rasmussen’s letter is a piece of the probation report submitted to Judge Aaron Persky.
Persky said Turner “exhibited genuine feelings of remorse” at the Thursday sentencing trial. Persky also applauded Turner’s alleged plan to start a program that will educate college students about the effects of excessive drinking and sexual promiscuity.
“For anybody’s life to be impacted by my actions … makes me want to live the rest of my life to change it,” Turner said at the trial.
But Turner never admitted to committing a crime, instead insisting that his sexual interaction with the victim was consensual. And his attorneys have said they plan on appealing the conviction.
Turner’s father also submitted a letter to the probation officer, arguing that his son’s punishment is “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Persky’s sentencing of six months in a county jail, the probation report’s recommendation, was quickly criticized by Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci.
“The sad reality is that sexual assault is committed by people you’d never expect, by people who look like Mr. Turner,” she told the San Jose Mercury News. “The fact that he looks a certain way should not give him any leniency.”
Kianerci said Turner should have been sent to prison.