Letter by Mother of Stanford Sex Offender: ‘He Won’t Survive’ Jail

June 14, 2016 Updated: June 14, 2016

The mother of the former Stanford University student athlete who got a relatively light sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman—triggering a nationwide firestorm about the role that wealth and privilege plays in the American legal system—wrote a letter that begged the judge for mercy in sentencing her son.

“I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison,” wrote Carleen Turner, the mother of Brock Turner, wrote to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who eventually handed him a six-month sentence. “Look at him. He won’t survive it.”

The mother said she feared Brock, 20, would become a “major target” because he’s required to register as a sex offender and also due to the widespread publicity and scorn the case has generated.

“Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete—all the publicity—this would be a death sentence for him,” Carleen Turner wrote. “Having lost everything he ever worked for his entire life and knowing the registry is a requirement for the rest of his life certainly is more than harsh.”

(Screenshot of Cathleen Turner's letter)
(Screenshot of Carleen Turner’s letter)

Her four-page letter was released online by officials last week.

“Those happy family times are gone forever, replaced by despair, fear, depression, anxiety, doubt and dread,” she wrote. “Brock is a shattered and broken shell of the person he used to be. My once vibrant and happy boy is distraught, deeply depressed, terribly wounded, and filled with despair. His smile is gone forever—that beautiful grin is no more.”

A jury in March convicted Turner, a champion swimmer and hopeful for the Olympics who was a freshman at the university, of felony intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person.

Two Swedish students stopped the assault and Turner ran off before they chased him and held him down. The case prompted questions about “rape culture” on colleges across the United States and a culture of silence around rape.

But his mother said her son had never been in trouble and “his dreams have been shattered by this. No NCAA Championships,” and she added there would be “no Stanford degree, no swimming in the Olympics (and I honestly know he would have made a future team), no medical school.” Indeed, USA Swimming banned Turner for life after widespread outrage over the sentence.

Turner’s father penned a similar letter, saying the conviction was “a steep price to pay” for the crime. His sister wrote he became “a shell of his former self, a broken young man.”

The 23-year-old victim penned a letter, in graphic detail, about the emotions she experienced following the assault, drawing praise from many, including Vice President Joe Biden.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” the victim told Turner. “The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”