An Open Letter to Dan A. Turner

Whenever something tragic happens that involves young people, a question that invariably gets asked is, “What do the parents have to say about this?” or “How are the parents feeling about this?”. Sometimes you never get that answer, and to some degree it might not be overly relevant. But sometimes a parent’s statement gives some perspective as to how we got to where we are, and hopefully, it helps provide some closure to the victims. It could even help other parents look for warning signs or negative behaviour in their own children that they could then focus their attention on correcting, so I for one always encourage and welcome it.  

Today I had the displeasure of reading the statement from the father of Brock Turner, the young man convicted of sexually assaulting a then 22 year old woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford campus grounds while she was unconscious.

Let that picture sink in for a second. A young woman. Unconscious. Behind a dumpster. Sexually assaulted.

His father starts his statement by saying that Brock is “devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th”. Is he really, Mr. Turner?

Is he devastated that he took advantage of a woman who had no way of defending herself? Is he devastated that when presented with what I can only imagine your son viewed as an opportunity to get his rocks off, he took that opportunity? Is he devastated that he has completely changed the way she views the world, human beings, strangers, and those she is supposed to trust? Is he devastated that in those moments where he literally stripped her of her clothing, he also stripped her of her confidence and self worth? Or Is he devastated that he chose a part of the campus where people may walk by, or bike by, and see what he was up to. Is he devastated that those Swedish saviours came before he was finished? Is he devastated that he couldn’t run from them fast enough?

He continues, “I can tell you he is truly sorry for what occurred that night”. Oh? He is? Did he apologize to his victim? No, he did not.

He goes on to say all sorts of lovely things about his son, how great of a personality he has, and of course, one of the centerpieces to this entire case – how great of a competitive swimmer he is. As if any of these attributes are supposed to make us believe that he would not have been capable of assaulting his victim. “Brock has always been very dedicated”, he says. I’m sure he has been, much like when he went out to that party that night with the intent to get laid, he didn’t give up on that goal – no sir! Even if it meant followed a drunk girl out of the party and into the dark campus quarters! Like your son did! So dedicated!

“I was proud to participate and serve as his coach and leader”. Are you still proud, Mr. Turner? Do you think maybe, you could have done better? I don’t mean to insinuate Mr. Turner that you yourself are responsible for your son’s actions, I’m just curious as to at what point you remain proud and at what point you wonder where you failed him? You keep going on about his accomplishments as if I or anyone reading is supposed to give a damn meanwhile there is a young woman out there still trying to cope with that fact that SHE is being made out to feel responsible for what happened.

“Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into the culture of alcohol consumption and partying”. Almost all students go through this to some degree, Mr. Turner, I’d be willing to bet even you yourself. You realize you can’t use this as an excuse right?

“Brock’s life has been deeply altered”. This is one quote that seems to be surfacing left right and center and it’s pretty clear to me why. Why are we still allowing rapists this ‘woe is me’ mentality? It’s pathetic. When a person is caught abusing animals, we don’t say ‘oh poor animal abuser, they should know better but they were probably just really stressed out, you know it’s hard to fit in with people so…’. No. We line up by the thousands with our pitchforks and scream to the high heavens until we confirm that that abuser no longer gets the privilege of owning animals – because that is what we believe to be justice.

Why when a victim comes forward to report a rape are we not doing the same thing? Why do we keep the pitchforks down and instead of shouting from our roof tops we whisper in each others ears, ‘Well she was drinking’ ‘And did you see that dress?’ ‘I think I heard her say she thought he was cute’. Why are people still standing back and QUESTIONING the victim’s story? Is it because, unlike the animals we defend above, she can have a voice and therefore we can question? Except, er, she wasn’t able to speak when she was passed out and being violated. Are we supposed to overlook that? Forget it? Dismiss it?

Why is rape still acceptable? Why do we allow the lines to blur when alcohol is a factor as if we’re being force fed beers and fear being killed if we don’t commit heinous acts in the process? I don’t go to as many parties as I used to but I’m pretty sure Brock didn’t have a gun to his head that night.

“That’s a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action”. Ah, there it is. How could we expect Brock to understand what a disgusting, inhumane, disrespectful, vile act he committed when his own father dumbed it down to “20 minutes of action”.

Where is your wife in this, Mr. Turner? Does she share your sentiment?

Would you call it “20 minutes of action” if the victim was your daughter?

Would it be devastating then?

“He has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015”. Oh? You believe that enough to put that into print? Could you say that to the victim’s face?

“(Brock) is totally committed to educating other college aged students about the dangers of alcohol consumption”. No thanks, Mr. Turner. Your son is the one that needs education – education on respect, misogyny, rape, consent, responsibility, accountability, the list goes on. And by the sounds of your letter, you could use that education, too.

Don’t even get me started on the lenient punishment handed down by Judge Aaron Perksy.

Click here to read the victims statement read aloud in court.