Vice President Joe Biden wrote a powerful letter to the victim of the Stanford University sexual assault case.
His message, revealed on June 9, comes after Brock Turner was sentenced to 6 months in jail by Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky on June 2. He is now appealing the sentence.
The woman was sexually assaulted by Turner, then-19, when she was unconscious after a party on the college campus in January 2015.
During the trial, the 23-year-old woman read a letter in which she described 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 said.
The vice president said he had read her court statement and it is “forever seared on my soul.”
In the letter obtained by Buzzfeed, Biden said he was “in awe” of her courage and angry.
“I am filled with furious anger—both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth,” he wrote.
“It must have been wrenching—to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking,” he added.
Vice President Biden, who headed the 1994 Violence Against Women Act and is involved in the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign to end campus sexual assaults, said the victim was failed by people who were at the party who didn’t intervene. He also said she was failed by those who blame her for the rape.
“You were failed by a culture on our college campuses where one in five women is sexually assaulted—year after year after year,” said Biden. “A culture that promotes passivity. That encourages young men and women on campuses to simply turn a blind eye.”
The vice president also cited Turner’s father’s comments of his son paying a “steep price for 20 minutes of action.” Biden said the response was “callous.”
“While the justice system has spoken in your particular case, the nation is not satisfied,” he wrote.
“Your words will help people you have never met and never will. You have given them the strength they need to fight. And so, I believe, you will save lives.”
The vice president also mentioned the PhD students who found Turner sexually assaulting the woman and held him down until police arrived.
“Those two men who saw what was happening to you—who took it upon themselves to step in—they did what they instinctually knew to be right,” said Biden.
“They did not say ‘It’s none of my business.’ “Those two men epitomize what it means to be a responsible bystander,” he said.
Biden ended his statement by saying, “I do not know your name—but I will never forget you.”
College age women are four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault, according to Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network.
One in four college women report surviving rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime, according to the organization One in Four.