Anna Gragert
June 08, 2016 12:04 pm
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office

On January 17th, 2015, one man’s decisions ignited a tragic chain reaction that’s still in effect today. It was set in motion when 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He ran when two men out riding their bikes caught him in the act, but they chased Brock down and soon captured him. Rather than being sentenced to the 14 years in state prison he technically could have faced for this crime, by law, Brock was punished with six months in county jail and probation because Judge Persky believed anything longer would have a “severe impact” on the young man.

Many believe that this lenient sentence was influenced by the character letters written on Brock’s behalf. His father wrote that a harsher conviction would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” In her own letter, Brock’s childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen wrote, “…rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.

In addition to letters written by his family and friends, Brock composed his own statement for Judge Persky. This was uncovered by The Guardian, which published excerpts revealing that Turner blames college drinking culture for his actions.

I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [redacted] … My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this,wrote Brock. “I am a changed person. At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed.

Brock repeatedly states that his actions on that one night revolved around drinking alcohol, not the sexual assault of a woman. Now, he is consumed by what happened as he thinks of the unimaginable pain he’s caused the woman he assaulted. “I never want to experience being in a position where it will have a negative impact on my life or someone else’s ever again,” wrote Brock. He mentioned that, based solely on how his case has been reported, he’s lost two jobs. He wishes that he wasn’t good at swimming and that he didn’t have the chance to go to Stanford, so that the media wouldn’t want to write about him.

In his letter, Brock added that he hopes to move on so he can show the world who he really is. He wants to prove that, if placed on probation, he’d be an asset to society – especially because he aims to use his experience to help others realize the dangers of peer pressure and the college drinking culture.

I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school. I’ve lost my chance to swim in the Olympics. I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunity, my reputation and most of all, my life,” Brock wrote. “These things force me to never want to put myself in a position where I have to sacrifice everything … I want no one, male or female, to have to experience the destructive consequences of making decisions while under the influence of alcohol. I want to be a voice of reason in a time where people’s attitudes and preconceived notions about partying and drinking have already been established.

Throughout his entire letter, Brock consistently emphasizes that he regrets drinking. And although he mentions the sexual assault victim’s pain, he downplays his role in that, essentially avoiding admitting guilt.

Not only have I altered my life, but I’ve also changed [redacted] and her family’s life. I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted],” Brock wrote. “It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of every day since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind. During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened.

In the excerpt from his statement, Brock admitted that he caused his victim and her family pain, but he never specifically stated why. He is instead more focused on how he feels guilty for consuming alcohol that night. In the end, Brock concluded, “I want to let young people know, as I did not, that things can go from fun to ruined in just one night.

Though Judge Persky was worried about how jail time would affect Brock, he seemed to forget that Turner wasn’t the only one influenced by his poor decisions that January night. During Brock’s sentencing, the woman on the receiving end of his actions read aloud a letter (which was later obtained by BuzzFeed) and responded to Brock’s statement when she asserted, “You said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life. 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.

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