Brock Turner Blames “Party Culture” For His Actions In Newly Released Letter To Judge
An excerpt from his letter to judge has been released
The court case that is currently vibrating across the country just got another layer added on today, as The Guardian has obtained the pre-sentencing statement from Brock Turner, the former Stanford student who was just convicted by a jury in Palo Alto, California of three counts of felony sexual assault.
The following is an excerpt from that statement:
“The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever. I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life. Not only have I altered my life, but I’ve also changed [redacted] and her family’s life. I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of every day since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind. During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [redacted]. I can barely hold a conversation with someone without having my mind drift into thinking these thoughts. They torture me. I go to sleep every night having been crippled by these thoughts to the point of exhaustion. I wake up having dreamt of these horrific events that I have caused. I am completely consumed by my poor judgement and ill thought actions. There isn’t a second that has gone by where I haven’t regretted the course of events I took on January 17th/18th. My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this. I am a changed person. At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed. I never want to experience being in a position where it will have a negative impact on my life or someone else’s ever again. I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case. I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me.
All I can do from these events moving forward is by proving to everyone who I really am as a person. I know that if I were to be placed on probation, I would be able to be a benefit to society for the rest of my life. I want to earn a college degree in any capacity that I am capable to do so. And in accomplishing this task, I can make the people around me and society better through the example I will set. I’ve been a goal oriented person since my start as a swimmer. I want to take what I can from who I was before this situation happened and use it to the best of my abilities moving forward. I know I can show people who were like me the dangers of assuming what college life can be like without thinking about the consequences one would potentially have to make if one were to make the same decisions that I made. I want to show that people’s lives can be destroyed by drinking and making poor decisions while doing so. One needs to recognize the influence that peer pressure and the attitude of having to fit in can have on someone. One decision has the potential to change your entire life. I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student. I want to demolish the assumption that drinking and partying are what make up a college lifestyle I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone. But I never ever meant to intentionally hurt [redacted]. My poor decision making and excessive drinking hurt someone that night and I wish I could just take it all back.
If I were to be placed on probation, I can positively say, without a single shred of doubt in my mind, that I would never have any problem with law enforcement. Before this happened, I never had any trouble with law enforcement and I plan on maintaining that. I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school. I’ve lost my chance to swim in the Olympics. I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunity, my reputation and most of all, my life. These things force me to never want to put myself in a position where I have to sacrifice everything. I would make it my life’s mission to show everyone that I can contribute and be a positive influence on society from these events that have transpired. I will never put myself through an event where it will give someone the ability to question whether I really can be a betterment to society. I want no one, male or female, to have to experience the destructive consequences of making decisions while under the influence of alcohol. I want to be a voice of reason in a time where people’s attitudes and preconceived notions about partying and drinking have already been established. I want to let young people now, as I did not, that things can go from fun to ruined in just one night.”
Seeing this excerpt from Turner’s statement puts into great context the long and powerful letter his victim released last week, in which she said her attacker’s remarks to judge Aaron Persky “failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct.” Turner read his statement to the judge prior to the sentencing, and the victim gave hers following the announcement that he would receive a scant six months of jail time and probation, even though he was facing up to 14 years behind bars and prosecutors requested that he serve six.
Turner apologizes many times, but never explicitly acknowledges the crime he committed, despite the fact that he was just found guilty, and shifts the responsibility of his actions onto party culture in the university system, alcohol consumption and “promiscuity.” (Let the record show that if a person engages in sexual activity with different partners every single day, if even one of those encounters was non-consensual, that means a rape occurred—regardless of the genders of the people involved.)
Take into account the equally blame-retardant statements from Turner’s father, friends and family and you start to see a handbook for how to perpetuate rape culture. The System is blamed for Turner’s actions. The peer pressure. One letter that judge Persky cited as a particularly influential character reference when considering Turner’s sentence even said:
“Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists. It is because these universities market themselves as the biggest party schools in the country. They encourage drinking. I think it is disgusting and I am so sick of hearing that these young men are monsters when really, you are throwing barely 20-somethings into these camp-like university environments, supporting partying, and then your mind is blown when things get out of hand.”
But the thing is, even if January 16, 2015 Brock Turner was not a rapist, January 17, 2015 Brock is. Once someone has made that choice and committed that act, a rapist is exactly what they are, even if they’re also hard working, generally well-liked, good at cooking and Olympic hopefuls. But with so many people close to Turner avoiding words like responsibility and accountability, it’s easy to see how the 20-year-old could feel immune from having to shoulder either of them. Stretch that out to its logical conclusion and you start to see how any young man—especially any young white man—could feel absolved of his crimes simply by being sorry.
The saddest part of all, the terrifying part, really, is that Brock Turner is not a snowflake. He is not unique, and the community supporting his desire to just put this whole mess behind him post haste is not unique either. The epidemic of rape on college campuses, and rape in America, is not just the domain of monsters who hide in shadows, waiting to pick off the vulnerable or the “promiscuous” or the drunk ones in a herd. The Palo Alto victim was not raped by one version of Brock Turner, the version of him unleashed by home-sickness and insecurity and social pressure and heavy alcohol consumption. She was raped by Brock Turner, because the terrified boy in the mugshot and the smiling one in his high school yearbook photo are the same person.
And if Brock Turner is going devote the rest of his life to public service, teaching others how to not make the same mistake he did, then he needs to first accept exactly what mistake he made. Without caveats and without qualifiers. Until Brock Turner admits “I raped this woman and I take complete responsibility for my actions” he is still juts a part of the problem.