Dad of Stanford Rapist Defends His Son in Disgusting Display of Male Privilege

In January 2015, a 19-year-old Stanford student sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside a frat party. Last Thursday, after a jury unanimously found him guilty of three counts of sexual assault, the judge sentenced that man to six months in county jail and probation because he was a swimmer with a scholarship and a longer sentence would have a "severe impact" on him. On Friday, the assault victim published the letter she read to her assaulter in court on Buzzfeed, and her disbelief that he could get off on such a light sentence went viral. On Sunday, the father of the assaulter wrote his own letter, saying that his son's sentence was a "steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action." And then we cried because even after everything, he still doesn't get it.

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A section of the dad's letter to the judge was posted to Twitter by Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor at the front of the fight to change the way the campus deals with sexual assault:

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In it, he argues that his son, Brock Turner, was historically nonviolent, hardworking, happy-go-lucky, and easygoing. He says that his cheerfulness and his appetite for rib-eye steaks have already been stripped from him because of the events on the night in January, and dealing with the difficulty of being a registered sex offender for the rest of his life is punishment enough.

He's wrong.

Turner might have been a good kid, but he's not anymore. He might have had no history of violence, but that ended when he pushed a woman on the ground, stripped off her clothes, and shoved his fingers inside of her. It ended when the jury returned and convicted him of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

His life might have changed forever after that night, but so did hers. She's the victim. She's the one who made no choices and gave no consent. Hers is the life we should be worried about, not his.

Rape is a crime, and crime deserves punishment. It's that simple.

Dan Turner's letter is a reminder of two things. The first and the most obvious is that rape culture is here and real and no less pervasive than it used to be. Turner's father does not see his son's attack as a serious crime, and he identifies alcohol as not a factor, but the cause. He spends more time stewing about the damage done to his own life than considering how his son's actions affected the life of the woman at the receiving end of his assault. That's backwards, and he doesn't even seem to understand why.

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But his letter is also a reminder of a wider problem that we don't like to think about: Rapists aren't just creepy men with chloroform rags and white vans. Rapists are anyone who who penetrates another human without their consent, and they can be golden boys with swimming scholarships and dads that believe they can do no wrong. Rapists can be young (or not), they can be famous (or not), and they can be women (or not). It's not who they are but what they did, and they should be sentenced based on their crimes, not on their privilege or their "potential." Or their swim times.

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At this point, legally speaking, the situation is what it is. The judge's gavel has gone down, and in six months, Brock Turner will return to his life. We can't fix the disservice that's been done to his victim, but we can try to make the Turners understand what's wrong with their argument. We can try to make them understand that the victim's needs have to come before the assaulter's. Always. We can try to make them understand that raping somebody is inexcusable, no matter how drunk either party was.

We can try to make them understand that women are people and because of that, they deserve rights and privacy and agency over their own bodies. It might not work, but we can try.

And PS: The Stanford victim's letter is mandatory reading, if you haven't seen it already. It's long and you'll cry, but that's kind of the point. She'll make a very necessary change to the way you look at victimhood. 

 

Image via jejim/Shutterstock

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