I am disgusted by the Brock Turner case. I’m appalled that he raped an unconscious woman, I’m aghast at his lack of remorse, and I’m furious about the far too lenient 6-month jail sentence (3 months with parole) he received from a judge who seemed more concerned with the perpetrator’s future than the victim’s suffering.
But with the exception of the rape itself, it’s the letters to the court from his mom and dad that have me feeling the biggest amount of white-hot rage.
Loving and supporting your son is expected. After all, they’re parents. You can’t just stop loving your kid, but failing to even acknowledge the victim while simultaneously painting a convicted rapist as the “real” victim?
Sickening. Reprehensible. Soulless.
It also perfectly illustrates the problem, and highlights the sense of entitlement that likely led to a 19-year-old Stanford swim star thinking there’s nothing wrong with taking what you want, simply because she wasn’t awake to say she didn’t want it.
No one can undo what happened to the poor victim or take back the egregiously slimy letters sent from the parents of her rapist. But there is one thing I’d like to do, and that’s write the kind of letter Brock Turner’s parents should have sent in the first place. Maybe there’s an off chance they’ll see it, and in turn, see where they went wrong.
We’re sorry. So, so sorry.
No parent wants to believe their son is capable of a crime like this. We didn’t believe it at first. Hell, we still can’t believe it most days. How do you reconcile the memories of the sweet child you nurtured and raised, with the person found guilty of penetrating an unconscious woman? It really is unthinkable for us, and completely devastating.
But we realize this isn’t about us. It’s about the victim.
No one should have to endure a sexual assault. No matter how drunk or promiscuous, no one deserves to be dragged outside and violated while they’re not even awake. We’re so sorry for the young lady who has dealt with this pain, and will always deal with it, for the rest of her life.
And we’re sorry our son is the cause of it.
I can tell you countless stories about Brock that would, under different circumstances, make you smile. Maybe even warm your heart. I’ve seen him be genuinely kind, compassionate, and empathetic. I’ve seen him work unbelievably hard to achieve goals in the classroom and the swimming pool. I can tell you with complete certainty our son is not a monster.
However, it seems he’s done a monstrous thing. Witnesses saw him at the scene and a jury has found him guilty. It hurts to even type those words, but that’s the reality of the situation.
Truth be told, earlier versions of this letter looked much different. We regaled you with stories about Brock’s past to show how wonderful of a person he was. And we focused on how depressed he is now. How he can’t eat. Can’t sleep. Never smiles. We think of his future as a registered sex offender and how he won’t even be able to coach his future kids’ sports teams. But in the end, we erased it all. Why?
Because we looked at our daughter, and imagined how we’d feel if she were the victim of a similar crime.
No matter how much Brock suffers, we understand the victim here is the young woman who was raped. That’s not easy to say when realizing it means our son — who we love with all of our hearts — might end up in jail. But even though this is the only illegal act he’s ever committed in the past, we understand the seriousness of what happened. We realize the life-altering nature of it. And we can’t help but wonder if we’re partly responsible for raising someone who could do this.
We can’t say Brock doesn’t deserve jail time for what he’s done. But, as his parents, we also can’t stand by and do nothing as you potentially sentence him behind bars, where the same crime will likely be perpetrated on him. So we’re asking for mercy. Please don’t send our son to jail. We believe through counseling, registering as a sex offender, and listening to stories of rape victims while learning firsthand the horrors of what survivors go through, he can be better. We understand how it looks asking for mercy regarding a crime so heinous, but parents look out for their kids and we’re doing that now. No one is beyond saving, and that includes Brock.
We are eternally sorry for the heartbreak this has caused the victim and her family. We’re even more sorry our son is at the heart of it. We have a daughter too and we can’t pretend to even begin to imagine what it’s like going through all this.
Brock made an unconscionable and indefensible decision that night that will impact everyone involved forever. It might be asking too much, but we’re hoping you can find a way to muster the compassion our son couldn’t conjure up that night. If you do, he will do better. We’ll do better. We will walk hand in hand with him to do advocacy work and try to prevent this from ever happening again. Because we are genuinely and terribly sorry for the pain that’s been inflicted during this time.
We acknowledge the terrible thing he did, but we will always love our son. We can’t help it — no parent can. But as parents, we are also forever scarred by what the victim has endured and thinking about what she and her parents are going through is bone-chilling.
Thank you for this opportunity, and please consider a merciful sentence for Brock.
Dan and Carleen Turner