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Father of Convicted Stanford University Sex Offender Defends Son’s “20 Minutes of Action” in Letter to Judge

privilegeAs if the slap-on-the-wrist sentence given to convicted sex offender Brock Turner, a 20-year-old former Stanford University swimmer who sexually assaulted a female student behind a dumpster, wasn’t bad enough, there was something going around my social media feeds this weekend that somehow nauseated people more than the details of the case: his father’s response.

The remarkable thing about this particular situation is that it seems to be a textbook case of the victim doing everything right, having all the evidence (there were two witnesses who happened upon them as the assault was happening, a rape kit was immediately taken when she was brought to the hospital, etc), and undergoing a victim-blamey questioning process proving that the accused is unquestionably in the wrong…and yet the accused still gets off relatively easy. After all, with the charges against him, Turner could’ve gone to prison for up to 14 years. He was sentenced to six months in county jail.

Not only was his sentence lenient, but so was the way he was treated throughout. Who knew that being on a swimming scholarship would reap such benefits! Not only did the judge not give Turner a harsher sentence out of fear that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner (poor baby!), but now Turner’s father, rather than just quietly accepting the embarrassment of riches his son received throughout this case thanks to white male and financial privilege, thought it a good idea to write the judge and complain that even THAT was too much punishment for his son.

Apparently, his son being “his happy go-lucky self” is more important than the damage his son inflicted on a woman. Apparently, his son’s happiness is worth more than the happiness of other people’s children, especially if those children are female.

And again, in case you missed it, there is no doubt that his son did what he was convicted of doing. There were witnesses. There’s physical evidence. Yet Turner’s father continues to defend and downplay his son’s actions in the most baffling ways possible.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

First of all, what about the life of the young woman he assaulted? Does that not matter? And if it does, does it not matter enough for your son to be punished for wrecking it? After all, not only did your son sexually assault her, but the court system proceeded to punish her for her own attack by subjecting her to a barrage of victim-blaming questions…all while your son has yet, to this day, to cop to what he did, apologizing only for drinking too much and not for the actual assault. At first, I wondered how a young man could be so clueless. How a young man could do such a thing. Now I realize…look at how he was likely raised.

Also, since when does how long a crime takes determine what the punishment should be? You know that you can kill someone in fewer than 20 minutes, right? Does that mean that a murderer should be able to get probation rather than anything resembling a real sentence for taking someone’s life? Do you get less of a sentence if you’re more competent and efficient at murder? You can rob a store in fewer than 20 minutes. You can vandalize a home, or set it on fire in fewer than 20 minutes. I don’t care if your son only took two minutes to sexually assault this woman. The point is, he did it.

“The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations.”


Oh, I’m sorry, was I supposed to have some sympathy here? Let me break this down: your son sexually assaulted someone while he was drunk. Now, plenty of people get drunk and don’t sexually assault people. There were other young men at that frat party getting drunk and not sexually assaulting anyone. Your son got drunk, and his go-to activity was to assault an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. And when he was caught in the act, he ran and had to be tackled by two passersby. He ran, because even though he was drunk, he knew he was doing something he shouldn’t be doing.

Something he still hasn’t verbally admitted to doing.

I’m not saying your son can’t be forgiven eventually. I’m someone who believes that, if a person is truly sorry for their wrongdoing and works hard to make amends, forgiveness is possible.  But the coddling he’s gotten from you, as well as from the state, has allowed him to think that it’s okay to not take responsibility for his actions. And one can’t forgive a person who doesn’t ask for it, who doesn’t think they did anything wrong. All we can do in the case of a person like that is punish them in the hope that it sinks in. All we can do is warn others of this person, and do what we can to keep that person from committing the same crime against others. So yeah, this will follow him throughout his life. As it should. At least until he gets it. Which he doesn’t. You don’t get to even think of requesting understanding for your son until your son is capable of understanding the gravity of what he did. As a parent, you should be helping him do that, rather than asking for favors.

By thinking this way, and writing this letter, you are actively preventing your son from doing what he needs to do to eventually move forward with his life. Not only that, but you’re keeping the person he assaulted from moving on by perpetuating the notion that she was somehow at fault and that “all” your son did was drink too much.

“[Incarceration] is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.”

  1. Your son is being incarcerated in accordance with the law. So yes, incarceration is the appropriate punishment for Brock. What’s more, he’s not even serving the maximum sentence for what he did.
  2. In what world is non-consensually forcing your fingers into another person’s body not an act of violence? What of the “abrasions, lacerations, and dirt found in [her] genitalia?” Are they not signs of violence? I fear what you consider violence if that doesn’t make the cut, and it makes me all the more angry that your son isn’t getting more time in jail.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results.”

So, your son sexually assaults someone, and you want him to be “punished” by being given a goddamn speaking engagement tour? What planet are you from? Your son is incapable of “educating” anyone at the moment, because he’s still incapable of saying what he did. He sexually assaulted a girl. Let me repeat that. He sexually assaulted a girl. This was not about the drinking. This is not about “promiscuity” on his part, and certainly not on the part of the unconscious girl he assaulted behind a dumpster. Her assault is not “unfortunate,” it’s horrific.

What’s more, the “cycle” of sexual assault is more likely to be broken if:

  1. Parents teach their sons that sex is a privilege, not a right. That enthusiastic consent from a partner — waiting for an active yes, rather than doing what you want until you hear an active no — is more important than anything else. And that if you engage with someone in a sexual way without their consent, there will be lifelong consequences.
  2. States follow through on those lifelong consequences.

Your son did have a chance to educate others, but considering the laughable sentence he got coupled with the babying he’s getting from you, all he’s teaching people now is that if you’re a well-off straight, white male, you’ll barely be punished for assault, and your father will never call you on your behavior.

The Onion gets it right in this hilarious video from years ago that we’ll find funny, because it’s clearly satire. The humor might go over your head, however, since this is apparently how you think. It scares me that you’ll likely watch this video and go “Well…yeah!”

Mr. Turner, your son is getting less than he actually deserves. I’m sure it pains you to see your son in jail, but he did something really, really wrong. No one should have to explain this to you. This is something that should be as clear to you, an adult, as it is to the girl who was assaulted. Perhaps you might use the six months Brock is in jail to educate yourself on sexual assault and rape: what it is, and how it affects its victims. None of those people are their usual “happy-go-lucky selves” either after that.

(via Think Progress, image via Shutterstock)

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