Brock Turner, the former Stanford freshman who was convicted of three felonies for his sexual attack on an unconscious woman near a fraternity house last year but sentenced last week to just six months in jail, points to his own "poor" decisions, takes some limited ownership of his crime, and focuses deeply on himself in a statement obtained by the Guardian. In that document, submitted to Judge Aaron Persky prior to sentencing, Turner in part blames a "culture" on college campuses of "drinking" and "promiscuity" for the rape he committed. His words may be triggering and upsetting to some.
The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever. I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life. 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]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair.
After vowing that he will "never" touch a "drop" of alcohol again and making his case for probation over prison time, Turner writes:
I want to take what I can from who I was before this situation happened and use it to the best of my abilities moving forward. I know I can show people who were like me the dangers of assuming what college life can be like without thinking about the consequences one would potentially have to make if one were to make the same decisions that I made. I want to show that people’s lives can be destroyed by drinking and making poor decisions while doing so. One needs to recognize the influence that peer pressure and the attitude of having to fit in can have on someone. One decision has the potential to change your entire life. I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student. I want to demolish the assumption that drinking and partying are what make up a college lifestyle... I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone. But I never ever meant to intentionally hurt [redacted]. My poor decision making and excessive drinking hurt someone that night and I wish I could just take it all back.
As for the subject of a "culture" of drinking and risk on campus, Sofie Karasek, director of education at End Rape on Campus, told the Guardian in January that "schools that don’t have a big athletic culture or a big Greek life have fewer incidents of sexual assault." However, Karasek doesn't seem to point to the same thing that Turner invokes — instead, she appears to highlight a culture of rape that's permitted because entitled organizations are granted impunity or leniency.
Judge Persky, meanwhile, responded to Turner's statement. “I take [Turner] at his word that subjectively that’s his version of his events," Persky reportedly said, "I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him.”
But Judge Persky's short sentence and perceived statements of equivocation — Turner, said the judge, had “less moral culpability” because he was drunk — have led to harsh criticism. Here the New York Times profiles Persky, who was himself a white male Stanford student and a member of the lacrosse team.
Turner's perspective, it goes without saying, should not be considered merely on its own merits, but only in relation to the more than 7,000 word statement of the survivor of his attack. "It is enough to be suffering," that survivor, a now 23-year-old woman who was at the time visiting campus, said to the courtroom. "It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering."
Previously: Former Stanford Swimmer Sentenced To 6 Months In Campus Rape Of Unconscious Woman
Swedish Students Who Tackled Stanford Rapist Speak Out
Victim Of Stanford Rape Releases Powerful Letter She Read In Court
Stanford Rapist's Dad Says Jail Not Warranted For '20 Minutes Of Action'; Petition Starts To Recall Lenient Judge