Weighing in on the Stanford Rape Case

So plastered all over my Facebook for the past week or so have been articles on the Stanford rape case which recently came to a conclusion. First off, I want to say I found the survivor’s 12 page letter which she read to her rapist in court very, very powerful. She’s very brave for being able to do so. It’s more than worth the read and honestly, whilst the entire letter did not resonate with my situation, as I’ve not been in the exact situation the survivor was, I did find a good 5 or 6 paragraph section to resonate with me 100%. For those of you who perhaps haven’t read this, I’ll link it here. Her strength really is so incredibly awe inspiring given her experience with one of the most heinous crimes known to mankind and the ensuing trial.

That being said, normally I’d rather write positive posts so this is going to seem a tad unusual. Normally I’d barely give a minute to the rapist and focus more on the survivor and their bravery. However this case continues to anger me for several reasons, not entirely all caused by the rapist’s actions (though these do form a major part of my anger toward him).

Firstly, for the judge to give Brock Turner, the rapist, a tiny 6 month sentence is incredulously insulting to the justice system. The whole point of a rape case going to trial is that the survivor is often looking for justice to be carried out. To give a rapist a 6 month sentence is an insult to the survivor and the survivor’s family’s experiences, both during and after the assault. And the possibility of him being released after 3 months for good behavior makes this sentence even more ridiculous. The judge may as well have just said “Approach the bench. I shall slap you on the wrist once then you are free to leave as a free man.” What makes the sentencing even worse is that only 1 or 2 days after the sentence was handed down, the judge shortened the entire sentence to 3 months. 3 months! 90 days!! You can thank the California Penal Code 4019 for that since it states that inmates may serve half their sentence if they attain 2 days of credits and keep a clean record in custody for 2 days.

So apparently because of what Brock Turner has been charged with he’s being held in his own, separate room, under protected custody and away from the general population inmates. Hmmm….. Doesn’t this seem wrong to you? But get this. Now his lawyer is appealing for his sentence to be served not in California where he committed the crime, was sentenced under Californian law and where he should be held for far longer than he was sentenced to, but in his home state Ohio. OK. That makes sense. His family will want to visit him regularly and they don’t want to be travelling backwards and forwards to California any time they want to visit him. I think though that everything the survivor is going through, and may have to endure for a very long time still, kind of majorly trumps the painstaking effort it would take the Turner family to travel to California to see him. You want to visit your rapist son easier? Maybe he shouldn’t have decided to rape someone in the first place then. That way you wouldn’t have to be visiting him in jail at all.

Both his father and his mother had written letters to the judge presiding over the case prior to sentencing. Both of these have now been released to the public. His mother’s (linked here), I found, was mainly telling the judge their entire family history. I know these are character statements and they are meant to place the defendant in the best light possible however, I thought this was a bit too long winded. There was very little mention of how Brock Turner had been affected by the trial. Other than to go into slight detail into how he is now never smiling and remains hunched over with his voice barely over a whisper, in the penultimate paragraph of the letter, all she does is do what a mother is expected to do when their child is accused of something. Sing their praises in everything from their school work to their extra-curricular activities to how they interacted with certain family members or groups of people. She makes him sound like he is a modern day saint. And maybe he his in her eyes. He probably always will be. A parent never wants to believe their child has done wrong, that’s just the way things are. What got me about her letter was one sentence. “My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?””. The answer to that question is simply because he chose to. He chose to commit a crime. He chose to take an obviously intoxicated, and therefore unable to consent, woman away from the safety of being around other people. He chose to sexually assault her. He chose to do this probably thinking he would get away with it. Everything that caused this trial, he chose to do. So this isn’t a case of the universe or God having a plan that involves your son being wrongly accused and prosecuted of such a crime. This is simply a case of him making his own bad choices. And as hard as that may be for the parents to accept, that’s the truth.

His father’s letter (linked here) also carried a similar tone to that of the one written by his mother. What is enraging people most is the use of phrases such as “20 minutes of action” and his blaming Brock’s actions on alcohol, stating that Brock’s energy would be best spent on campuses alerting other students to the dangers of “alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity” which lead to “unfortunate results”. Firstly, to call a sexual assault “action” is incredibly insensitive. Not only does it downgrade the heinousness of the act, it also makes it sound incredibly immature. Only boys who are immature and enjoy adding another notch to the bed post refer to sex as action. Usually when they’re bragging to their friends about how many girls they’ve bedded or having a pissing contest to decide who’s had the best lay. You cannot refer to an act of sexual assault or rape as action. I myself find the term used in this way extremely demoralizing. It makes me think that anybody who manages to get away with raping or sexually assaulting someone probably goes around telling their friends about how good the action they got from the survivor was. When in reality it wasn’t good and it wasn’t fun. Action sounds like such a fun word, like something exciting is happening. Rape is not exciting. Rape is not fun. Rape is terrifying, scarring and possibly the least fun thing anyone should ever have to go through. The role of alcohol in this case is, aside from being irrelevant when talking about Brock’s consumption (given the recent comments that Brock appeared non-intoxicated from one of the Swedish students who held him until the police arrived), entirely irrelevant. Yes the survivor had been drinking. But that didn’t mean she wanted to be sexually assaulted. That didn’t mean she was asking for it and it certainly did not mean she was being sexually promiscuous. “Unfortunate results”? Please. Don’t make me laugh. Those “unfortunate results” you are referring to were entirely caused by your son. As I said before, he chose to do what he did. Nobody and nothing made him do it. If he had been drinking then alcohol didn’t make him do it. If he had been doing drugs then they didn’t make him do it. His own brain decided to do it because it’s what he wanted to do.

Brock’s own letter to the judge detailed how his college experience was going and when talking about the night of January 17th 2015 it reads very much like a police statement. Going into detail about exactly what he was doing, how he got places, where things were taking place and even going so far as to repeatedly use the phrase “after a period of time”, it definitely reads like a police statement. He went into detail about how he came to believe that alcohol consumption and partying were fundamental to being a student. He says it as if he believes that, had he not participated in drinking and partying, he wouldn’t have properly qualified as a student. Brock states at one point that “At no time did it ever occur to me, or did it ever seem that [she] was too drunk to know what we were doing.” This statement seems a little redundant. If he had been consuming alcohol like he says, and if he, therefore, truly had no real concept of what time it was past his friend’s dorm room party being shut down at 11pm, then of course it wouldn’t occur to him. If he’d been drinking then he wouldn’t be thinking about whether or not either of them were too drunk to know what they were doing. On the other hand, if he really hadn’t been drinking then why wouldn’t this occur to him unless he simply didn’t care and was just looking for some “action”? If she wasn’t sober enough to walk down a slope without falling over and taking him with her then do you really think she was sober enough to consent to anything? His explanation about how she agreed to him fingering her leaves two questions. If she was able to consent then how on earth did she get pine needles inside her? I’m sure if she had agreed to this and if he hadn’t wanted to hurt her he would have at least checked to see his hands were clean and there weren’t any pine needles on them first. The other question this leaves is, if she was conscious enough to consent, at what point did she become unconscious? Given that she didn’t regain consciousness for another 3 hours and that the Swedish students have said she was unconscious when they came across the scene then when did she lose consciousness? Even if she was conscious enough to consent at first, once she lost consciousness she lost all ability to consent to anything past that point and so this was still sexual assault. One of his final statements is that he was never in trouble with law enforcement prior to this occasion. A fact he contradicts himself on in the very opening paragraph, in which he tells the judge of how he was arrested and charged with minor alcohol 2 months prior to this.

Since the sentencing, several things have cropped up about the night in question. Including a statement from one of the Swedish students who held him down that he didn’t appear intoxicated, messages from his phone which appear to imply he took photos and sent them to people, texts about trying to find LSD to take and the fact that it has been reported, by the women he did this to, that he “creeped out” another woman the weekend before with his persistence and that he also attempted to kiss and grope the survivor’s sister prior to the assault. All of these are outlined briefly here.

As it stands now, I don’t see these revelations stopping any time soon. The petitions to remove the judge are going to keep circulating no doubt too. If I have anything to say to this whole situation in closing it would be this:

To Brock and his family. It may be hard to accept but whether alcohol was involved or not Brock still decided to do what he did. It was all his decision. Does he regret that now? Maybe. Are you ever going to accept that he could have done something so wrong? Probably not. Yes, he will be badly affected by this for the rest of his life. Honestly though, 99% of people won’t have any sympathy for him. Brock’s own decisions have led him to this point. And that’s something he will probably regret. Knowing that everything he wanted his life to be was taken away from him. By him. That has to be extremely difficult but at the end of the day it was all his decisions that have led him to this point. I don’t have much else to say to Brock and his family other than I hope you genuinely regret this, if not now then one day. I hope you realize that you didn’t just ruin your victim’s life, you ruined your own life and that of your family’s to some extent too. That’s all on you. And that would be a heavy burden to bear I’m sure. Many people I know would wish death on you or would wish harm to you in some way. I don’t. I just want you to realize what you’ve done and know the full extent of your bad decisions.

To the survivor. I doubt you are reading this but there are some things I want you to know. You are so incredibly brave and I want you to know you will be OK. It’s not going to happen overnight. You’re not going to find this journey to being OK easy. There’ll be some days where you’ll feel like you just want to give up. Some days where you feel like you’re right back there, reliving it. It may be days, months or even years from now. It happens from time to time. You might even find that things unrelated will trigger you to make you feel like you’re back there again. I know this because it happens to me sometimes. Actually, all the press coverage of your case has caused me to hit a bit of a rough patch because of everything it brings up for me, even though 99% of your case is unrelated to me. Things will be messed up for a while, they will be. But I know you will be OK in the end. You seem to have a very good, supportive family and I’m sure however you choose to deal with this, either through therapy or on your own with the help of your family, you will begin to heal. You will learn to trust people again. I know right know you might be finding it hard to trust anyone outside your family and friends but that will change. I’m sure of it. This will all just take some time. Know that you are worth it though. Everything that you were, everything that you are and everything that you will be is worth it. You know that this does not define you. Don’t let people try to define you by it. That future you that you’ve always dreamed of with the great job, friends, husband, etc. Everything you’ve ever dreamed of will happen for you. You are still you and you always will be. It’s just that right now you need to focus on healing yourself and getting back to being OK so you can attain every single one of your dreams. I believe in you. The world believes in you. Even people high profile like VP Joe Biden (a man very much in the women’s corner in the fight against rape and sexual assault) believe in you. We all believe in your bravery and I know you will overcome this. Look after yourself. We’re all rooting for you.

AV

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