Down in the Dumps: The Brock Turner Story

The stories of sexual assault among college students and college-age people stack up one on top of the other, crushing society under their weight.

Oftentimes we’ll hear the words of prosecutors and defense attorneys, or university presidents, or parents, educators or coaches of the accused. We always want to hear people out.

Stanford. January 2015.

A man who is now a former swimmer at the prestigious institution was found having sex with a woman behind a dumpster. The problem with this scenario was that the woman was totally not conscious.

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Brock Allen Turner, the rapist (not the ‘alleged’ attacker, the rapist) was sentenced on Thursday to six months in a county jail and probation.

Six. Months.

Hang in there, it gets worse.

Brock’s father, Dan Turner, whose first mistake was naming his son Brock, wrote a rather personal statement in which he referred to the assault as “20 minutes of action.”

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Brock reportedly dreamed of one day swimming in the Olympic games.

In his statement, Dan emphasized how Brock’s life has been “shattered” by the convictions.

A chunk of the statement was tweeted by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber. You can find the whole thing with a strokes and clicks, but this is an important chunk. Let me just break it down for you. Dan Turner begins:

“As is stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of January 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy-go-lucky self with that with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression.”

Oh, no! Worry, anxiety, fear, and depression? That’s terrible! Almost as terrible as causing those exact same things to take over the life of your literal rape victim.

Dan continues to drag out something about Brock liking to eat food in the past but now he’s too anxious and sad to eat anything. Poor kid. Then came the ‘yikes’ moment.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

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Mmm…I’m afraid it isn’t a steep price, though. Not at all, really.

This is not something that happened to Brock. This is something Brock deliberately caused to happen to the victim. His life will not be what he dreamed of. That’s kind of the point. If you live for 20+ years you should know this simple rule of thumb: unconscious people don’t want to have sex with you.

Moving on:

“The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations.”

Again, that’s the point. 

Because he is a sexual offender, he should register as a sexual offender. Yes, it will alter how he interacts with people. The way he interacted with the victim was by, uh, sexually violating her unconscious body. So yeah, hopefully that’s altered a bit.

“What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015.”

Wait.

If you want to get super technical about what “violence” is, maybe having sex with someone who can’t consent to it isn’t in the same category. But just because you aren’t a generally “violent” person does not mean you don’t belong in prison. Dan, your kid raped another person.

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Incarcerated is the least he can be.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results.”

Oh, my mistake. The problem isn’t rape. It’s alcohol. It’s that ol’ devil hooch, I tell you!

“Binge drinking and it’s unfortunate results.” Dan here is implying one of two things. Either his son drank too much, and that caused his judgment to be so impaired that he threw himself onto an unconscious person behind a dumpster and raped her…or the victim drank too much, passed out, and ‘got herself’ raped. Both implications somehow excuse Brock’s behavior. Curious, Dan, very curious.

Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.

The best answer for Brock is to own up to rape. Not drinking, but raping. The best answer for Brock is to not f***ing rape people.


This is how we know ‘rape culture’ exists. A man who definitely raped an unconscious woman faces a maximum of 14 years, but gets 6 months because the judge did not want to ruin his life or crush his lil’ dreams. (We could also say that it’s white privilege considering a black man would get straight-up strangled for selling cigarettes, but I’ll save that one.)

Brock issued a statement himself, explaining his side. The victim responded directly, tearing apart everything he said. Here is an excerpt from her thorough and strongly written response.

“I have done enough explaining. You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You do not get to not know why you ran. You have been convicted of violating me with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.”

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If someone’s a rapist and an athlete, they’re not an athlete who made a mistake, they’re a criminal who can also swim. #BrockTurner

— ash (@ashley_mccreery) June 6, 2016

When someone sexually assaults someone else, we have to think of the victim. Before we focus on how ‘good’ a kid the attacker was before the attack, let’s focus on the attack. And how horrible, frightening, disgusting, dehumanizing, and unacceptable it is.

Look out for one another. Hold people accountable.

We’re all human.

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