Dear Dan Turner,
Last Thursday, your son was sentenced to six months in county jail for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He was discovered raping this woman by two graduate students. The woman was scratched and bruised and raped by your son. She had dirt in her genitals. Your son did that. Your son, the rapist.
When news of his incredibly lenient sentence became public, people all over the world were shocked. Shocked that a rapist would spend only six months in county jail for his crime. Shocked that the judge was more concerned with your son’s athletic future than justice for the victim. Shocked that the poignant letter the victim read to your son in court did not convince said judge to give your son the sentence he was facing: fourteen years in prison.
Then you wrote your own letter.
A letter so vile, and so devoid of empathy for the woman your son raped, it made me physically ill. There are two parts of your letter that stand out, two parts that give some insight into how your son came to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The first paragraph speaks to your son’s remorse, even though your son has never admitted he raped that woman. In fact, he believes, somehow, that she enjoyed being raped.
I am writing this letter to tell you about my son Brock and the person that I know he is. First of all, let me say Brock is absolutely devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th 2015. He would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have that night to do over again. In many one-on-one conversations with Brock since that day, I can tell you that he is truly sorry for what occurred that night and for all the pain and suffering that it has caused for all of those involved and impacted by that night. He has expressed true remorse for his actions on that night. Living under that same roof with Brock since this incident, I can tell you firsthand the devastating impact that it has had on my son. Before I elaborate more, I would like to share some memories of my son that demonstrate the quality of his character.
Your son is devastated because he was caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster by two graduate students. Your son wants to “turn back the hands of time” so he can rape that woman and walk away, leaving her bruised and battered body on the pavement. Your son has not expressed “true remorse” to the one person who matters: the woman he raped. The quality of his character as a child does not matter anymore; your son is a rapist.
You go on, meandering down memory lane, sharing how much you enjoyed helping your son study for spelling tests, his participation in Cub Scouts, and his athletic prowess. You still have not mentioned the woman your son raped. You actually seem to blame Stanford, writing “Looking back at Brock’s brief experience at Stanford, I honestly don’t believe it was the best fit for him. He was ready academically and athletically, but it was simply too far from home for someone who was born and raised in the Midwest. He needed the support structure of being closer to family and friends.”
So your son raped that woman because he didn’t fit in at Stanford? Or is it Stanford’s fault, for not letting you come to college with him, to offer that “support structure?”
The final paragraph is the most horrible, the most cold-hearted. You write:
As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking moment is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. 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.
Mr. Turner, your main concern is your son won’t eat steak or pretzels. You call what your son did to that woman “20 minutes of action.” Mr. Turner, your son is a sexual predator, who was just told by a judge that raping a woman only requires six months in county jail. You worry about your son’s anxiety, fear, and depression. What about your son’s victim? What about her worry, fear, anxiety, and depression? What about her appetite? What about her nightmares, and her future?
You write, further on in that paragraph:
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.
No. No. No. Mr. Turner, rape is violent. Rape is the violation of another human being against their will. Rape is about power and it is an act of violence. Your son perpetrated an act of sexual violence upon an unconscious woman on the night of January 17, 2015.
Mr. Turner, your son should be spending the next fourteen years of his life in prison. Instead, he was sentenced to six months in a county jail. It will take his victim much, much longer than six months to recover from what your son did to her. It might take her whole life. While you worry about steak, your son’s victim worries about her safety, she wonders when she will be able to sleep through the night, she wonders why your son raped her.
I am a survivor of rape. Your letter is one of the most obscene things I have ever read. Your son is a rapist, and between the judge’s leniency and your inability to show one ounce of empathy toward your son’s victim, he will walk away from this relatively unscathed. He will be a registered sex offender, but in all probability, given how society at large feels about athletes versus rape victims, that will not negatively impact his life.
Mr. Turner, I still wake up in a cold sweat some nights, remembering my rape. I have PTSD, anxiety, chronic depression. Sometimes I don’t eat. Do you care about that? Or do you just care that your son the rapist used to win spelling bees, and wasn’t prepared for Stanford? Do you understand what your son did? How he left the victim? Do you understand rape is not sex? That rape is about dominating and destroying another human being?
Your son should be spending the next fourteen years of his life in a state prison. Your son is a sexual predator who, on the night of January 17, 2015, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. A woman who is braver than your son will ever be. A woman who, in spite of you and your family’s heartlessness, will eventually heal, and go on to become a shining light of hope in the world.
Mr. Turner, your son is a rapist.
Erin M. Nanasi