The father envisions his son as a virile young man, out to get “20 minutes of action.”
No, he’s a convicted sexual predator. A former Stanford freshman who thought it was his right, maybe even his privilege, to sexually attack a young woman passed out from drinking.
The story of Brock Turner, convicted of three felonies, wouldn’t be all the outrage on social media if not for the actions of two people. Two graduate Stanford students saw Turner dry-humping the half-clothed, unconscious woman behind a trash bin of a fraternity house and intervened.
That’s why it matters. Because if not for these two witnesses, this case would be like so many others. A he-said/she-said stalemate. With a woman not remembering the alleged attack because of the booze. And the man getting “to write the script,” as this victim said in her impact statement, which has gone viral.
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The passed-out can’t testify to what happened to them. The drunken girl gets chastised.
The case of the all-American swimmer sentenced last week in Palo Alto, Calif., is enraging people. The conversations need to occur. And the details the victim is releasing, however uncomfortable, deserve airing. Sexual assault is too often diluted by well-intentioned efforts to frame it softly, to not offend.
Society needs to be more offended.
The 23-year-old victim is right. Turner’s six-month sentence in a county jail is akin to “a soft timeout.”
And there is the latest turn: the father’s statement. A law professor at Stanford, an advocate on sexual assault issues there, tweeted Dan Turner’s written plea on behalf of his son. He’d composed it presentencing, as an attempt to influence the judge toward leniency.
He speaks of how the trial, the publicity and withdrawing from Stanford have affected his son. He writes of the “worry, anxiety, fear and depression” in his son’s life. And that his son’s future will not be the life that he envisioned and no doubt worked for as a stellar athlete.
That’s the portion where the father uses the callous phrasing, “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
People are livid. Rightly so.
Yet many parents, when their young adult children court trouble, would also hedge. They’re faced with seeing the implosion of their investments as parents, the money, the time, their love. It becomes about them, their child — not the victim.
What type of young man would select the drunkest girl from a party, take her outside, half-undress her and roll her on the ground by a trash bin?
At the trial, a commonly heard summation of the accused was given. “There’s no way he would ever do something like that,” testified a friend from his high school days in Ohio, according to Palo Alto Online.
Without the witnesses, that might have been the end of it. A principled young man, wrongly accused.
But the two graduate students recounted yelling at Turner, “What the (expletive) are you doing? She’s unconscious.” He stopped thrusting his body over hers, got up and ran. They chased, tackling Turner.
Besides that testimony, there were photographs at the trial of the young woman curled up in a fetal position as firefighters and medics tried to treat her that night.
Turner told police that the victim did consent and “seemed to enjoy” what was happening.
Father, like son, blames the booze. He says that his son is committed to helping educate college students on the “dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”
Both Turner and the young woman were estimated to be over the blood alcohol limit to drive legally in California during the attack. She had the higher inebriation level, experts estimated.
Yes, this case is eerily similar to so many others. But those cases didn’t have good Samaritans intervene and medical records to show that the victim didn’t regain consciousness until hours later, when she was on a gurney at the hospital.
The victim spoke for many to this point as well: “We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.”
Sure, wag a finger at women for drinking too much. No one is arguing that being drunk is a good thing. But it’s not women who deserve the most scorn. It’s men who need to stop attacking.