Father's Statement Defending His Sex-Offender Son Gets A Much-Needed Rewrite

Former Stanford University student Brock Turner was just sentenced to six months in county jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, an unconscionably lenient sentence that the judge, Aaron Persky, delivered in fear that a prison sentence would have a "severe impact" on 20-year-old Turner. The 23-year-old woman whom Turner assaulted submitted a powerful statement to Judge Persky describing the impact of the attack on her life, which you can (and should) read in full over at BuzzFeed. Now, public fury over the young woman's victimization — first by Turner and then by the justice system — has been amplified by the release of a court statement that Turner's father, Dan Turner, penned in defense of his sex-offender son.

It's a breathtakingly repulsive request that Brock Turner receive probation rather than jail time, in which his father argues that his son's life "will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," which is, he says, "a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life." Instead of acknowledging that his son has digitally penetrated a woman without her consent and forever damaged her ability to live a happy, healthy life, Dan Turner expounds on his son's subdued demeanor and changed eating habits. The internet has reacted, rightly, with outrage:
In one of the most compelling tweets about the statement, Twitter user Jez Kemp edited it to highlight the victim-blaming and white male privilege it displayed, swapping in female pronouns where Dan Turner described his son's anguish in order to illustrate that Turner is not the victim here.
Dan Turner's refusal to admit his son's culpability falls in lockstep with the justice system's failure to penalize Turner according to his actions: Turner faced up to 14 years in prison for his crimes, which include three felony sexual assault charges, and Stanford University Law Professor Michele Dauber wrote in a letter to the court that he should have received a minimum of two to three years of incarceration under California statutes.

The case's outcome is one more consequence of rape culture's insistence that survivors rather than perpetrators of sexual assault are to blame. "One thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning," the woman Turner assaulted wrote. "You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was 'unconscious intoxicated woman', ten syllables, and nothing more than that... I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am."

Every time we fail to hold an assaulter responsible for that assault, we tell survivors once more that "victims" are all they are.
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