Letters sent to a Santa Clara judge from family and friends of former Stanford student, Brock Turner, portray him as a dedicated and successful swimmer with a bright future. The letters were sent to Judge Aaron Persky to convince him to avoid sending Turner to jail. The maximum jail term Turner faced was 14 years.
Turner was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 3 years probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious 23-year-old woman on the school’s campus after a party on Jan 17, 2015. Turner, then-19, was arrested the same night.
Persky, following the recommendation of the county’s probation department sentenced Turner on June 2, citing Turner’s clean criminal record and the impact the conviction will have on his life in the sentencing. The former swimmer must register for life as a sex offender after a jury convicted him of three felony counts of assault and attempted rape. A rape charge was dropped in October 2015.
Turner’s sister, Caroline Turner, described her younger brother as a “kind, quiet, talented, hard-working, deeply caring, sensitive, peculiar, inquisitive, and most importantly, vulnerable young man.”
“I have witnessed him carry the stigma of being accused of rape and sexual assault and the social, professional, and cultural effects that he has experienced; l have witnessed his struggle to even get out of bed. This is in stark contrast to the young man my brother used to be, always energetically pursuing his goals,” she said in the letter.
“A series of alcohol-fueled decisions that he made within an hour timespan will define him for the rest of his life. Goodbye to NCAA championships. Goodbye to the Olympics. Goodbye to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Goodbye to life as he knew it,” she added.
Richard and Carolyn Bradfield
Turner’s grandparents, Richard and Carolyn Bradfield, said they were not able to attend their grandson’s trial because of medical reasons. They also said they were disappointed that they could not help Turner’s parents financially because they are “on a fixed income.” The Bradfields said they were “shocked” and “stunned” when they heard the jury’s verdict and that all they could do was “hold each other and cry.”
The grandparents also blamed others.
“We still are in disbelief. Brock is the only person being held accountable for the actions of other irresponsible adults. He raised a right hand, swore an oath and told the truth,” they wrote. “Brock has essentially served a 14 month jail sentence while awaiting trial. We beg the court to grant time served and no additional time to our grandson, Brock Turner.”
A childhood friend of Turner’s, Tommy Cope, expressed his admiration for the swimmer while growing up.
“I honestly do not know what happened to Brock when he went to college that led to this terrible decision with which he is dealing with the consequences of now. All of his life leading up to this, all of his hard work in everything he has done, his striving for greatness, now lays in pieces. When I first saw the news over a year ago, all I could think to myself was, “oh Brock … what have you done?'” he said.
Cope also said Turner was a “mild-mannered kid with a good heart” caught in a “terrible” situation.
“I have spent many good years with him, and have never known him to have a malevolent bone in his body. I know that he is filled with pain. His sport, his education, his goals have already been taken from him,” he added.
Another childhood friend, Andrew Cole-Goins, pointed out that Turner’s successes were “only a small part of what I remember Brock Turner by.”
“I can say with full integrity, honesty, and assurance that Brock Turner is not a rapist nor is he a predator of any kind. I’ve seen him interact with women and I’ve seen him interact with men and never have I seen anything concerning,” he said.
“Brock Turner is a great young man whose morals are strong and would never do something like he was convicted of,” added Cole-Goins.
A retired federal prosecutor and friend, Margaret Quinn, who has known Turner’s family for 15 years said “the collateral consequences of a conviction are staggering.” She also said sexual misconduct on college campuses is “a very real problem,” claiming that educational programs on consensual sex, effective communication between partners, healthy relationships, and safe drinking practices on college campuses are the “most effective” ways to combat those issues.
Quinn says Turner can help society by using his experience to educate others.
“If the Court saw fit, perhaps Brock could better serve his future development and that of other young men, in counseling them, speaking to them, warning them about the devastating consequences of a single decision. Brock could have the unique opportunity to mentor students on this complex issue that young people from all over the country will undoubtedly face in their lifetime,” said Quinn.
“I hope his punishment enables him to educate young people on the importance of safe alcohol consumption, and effective communication between two consenting individuals,” added Quinn.
She also wrote that a prison term will serve no useful purpose in Turner’s case.
“There is no doubt Brock made a mistake that night—he made a mistake in drinking excessively to the point where he could not fully appreciate that his female acquaintance was so intoxicated. I know Brock did not go to that party intending to hurt, or entice, or overpower anyone,” she said.
Controversy over the case intensified when a letter written by Turner’s father, Dan Turner, was released.
In the statement, he pleaded Judge Persky for leniency before the sentencing, adding that his son has paid a “steep price for 20 minutes of action.”
Turner has left Stanford, whose men’s swim team is one of the top 10 teams in the country this season, and his Olympic-hopeful swimming career has been shutdown.
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” the father wrote. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Turner’s father also said his son has lost his appetite because of the case, saying he “eats only to exist.”
Victim’s Gut-Wrenching Letter
In court last week, the victim read a 12-page-letter, in which she addressed the defendant directly, describing how the incident left her emotionally battered.
“My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty,” she wrote.
Her letter went viral on social media.