In Defense of the Indefensible

If you follow current events, you have probably heard a lot about the recent sentencing of the convicted rapist, Brock Turner. Hopefully you also took the time to read the letter the Victim read to Turner at his sentencing.

This letter is a prime example of why it is essential that we elevate the stories of women. If not for her letter, the chances are good that we would have never learned most of the harrowing details of the rape and subsequent trial has affected her. Furthermore, it offers a glimpse into what a rape victim has to endure in pursuit of justice. Her letter is articulate, disturbing, beautiful, and brutally honest.

Other letters from this case have also garnered attention this week; specifically, letters from Turner’s father, Dan Turner, and his friend, Leslie Rasmussen, to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. Regrettably, both authors refuse to acknowledge that Turner is guilty. Even worse, however, is the fact that they either try to justify his actions or blatantly blame the Victim for what transpired.

As an organization dedicated to promoting the stories of women and girls, we feel it is our obligation to encourage everyone to read the Victim’s letter. If you have sons or daughters, please encourage them to read it as well. We also want to take this opportunity to respond to Turner’s friend’s letter below in hopes that we can offer some perspective to her words.


Bolded words indicate commentary provided by women reVamped Board Chair Karen Lindstrom, the author of this post, in evaluation of the narrative of this letter written by a friend of the convicted rapist Brock Turner from Stanford University.

It was with great sadness that I read the news about Brock Turner, and the horrible situation that he was involved in. It came as a huge shock to me. If by “the horrible situation that he was involved in” you mean being convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of unconscious person, then you are correct. It is understandable that what happened would come as a shock; however, he got himself into this “situation”.

Brock has been a peer of mine since elementary school, and was a very close friend of mine for a few years in high school. He dated one of my very good friends, [name removed], around the same time. In those years, he was always very respectful of everyone. Teachers, classmates, friends, and girls, all alike. He is one of those people that no one has a problem with, and is pretty much good at everything. We all knew he’s swim in the olympics one day. None of this changes the fact that he committed the crimes of which he was convicted.

His family is a very respectable family in town. I also know his older sister, Caroline. They all seem like such good kids brought up by two very cool and grounded parents. In all honestly, if I ha to choose one kid I graduated with to be in the position Brock is, it would have never been him. I could name off 5 others that I wouldn’t be surprised about. Brock is such a sweetheart and a very smart kid. I never once caught him harassing anyone, verbally of physically. That would have been out of his character. The respectability and coolness of an individual’s relatives are irrelevant when discussing said individual’s guilt in a crime.

It’s pretty frustrating to see the light that people are putting him in now. It used to be “swim star” and now it’s like he is the face of rape on campuses. It’s such a false way to put it. I cannot believe it. I’ve thought a lot about it, and from different angles. I tried to accept that maybe he did intend to harm this girl, but I just couldn’t imagine that was the case. It may be frustrating for you to see your friend scrutinized; however, the “light” you speak of is being a convicted rapist. That is simply reality. It is unfortunate that in all of your thinking from different angles you never thought about it from that of the victim’s. It is the kind of thinking displayed in your letter that reinforces “rape culture”.

I know rape is a very sensitive subject, for everyone, and especially women. I am not backing it up or making excuses, but there is absolutely no way Brock went out that night with rape on his mind. I think he went to a party and was drinking, like almost every student at a university does, and was flirting with this girl, like he said. The woman recalls how much alcohol she drank, which was a lot. She was no doubt about to black out if not already. I’m sure she and Brock has been flirting at this party and decided to leave together. You do not know whether Brock went out that night with rape on his mind so there is absolutely a way he did. That being said, he may not have thought he would rape someone when he went out that night. But he did. He may not have thought he would ever rape someone. But he did. He may not believe to this day that he raped someone. But he did.

You say you know rape is a sensitive subject and perhaps you do. However, you are absolutely backing it up and making excuses with every word of this letter. By saying he went to a party and “was drinking” is making an excuse. By saying he was flirting with the victim “like he said” is an attempt to justify the rape. By saying the victim drank “a lot” and “was no doubt black out” is victim-blaming. It is saddening that you do not seem to be able to recognize rape even when it has been proven, with evidence and eye witnesses.

As a young woman, please know that flirting with someone does not justify them raping you later. Nor does being in a relationship with them, marrying them, or having sex with them previously. Simply put, there is no action that ever justifies rape. Do not ever let someone tell you differently.

Just as they did she passes out, which after that many drinks, anyone would. At the same time, Brock, having a few too many drinks himself, is not completely in control of his emotions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol increases emotions and feelings. I think this is all a huge misunderstanding. I think that the bikers who found him did the right thing by keeping him there in case he was attempting rape, but that after the investigation, it should have found Brock to be innocent. I am glad you can at least acknowledge the fact that she was, in fact, unconscious at the time of the rape. However, you are once again attempting to justify it by saying he was not in control of his emotions. That being said, if you can acknowledge she was unconscious then you know it was impossible for her to have given consent. Therefore, emotional or not, your friend is guilty.

Brock is not a monster. He is the furthest thing from anything like that, and I have known him much longer than the people involved in his case. I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten+ years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. You may have known him longer than the people involved in his case but this just means you are biased and more likely not to believe the facts. However, the fate of your friend’s life is based on his decision to rape someone. It is absolutely fair for his life to be impacted by his own actions.

I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But 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. This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. You are blaming her directly. But you are correct; that is not right. Furthermore, when a person gets convicted of a crime they committed it’s not political correctness; it’s justice. Finally, someone who rapes a person on a college campus is just as much of a rapist as someone who rapes a person in any other location. That said, if you believe the party culture on college campuses is also a major issue, then by all means get involved.

These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgment. I’m not saying that is every case because I know there are young men that take advantage of young women and vice versa, but I know for a fact that Brock is not one of those people. He is respectful and caring, talented, and smart enough to know better. Your friend is one of those people. Two grad students witnessed him being one of those people and running away when he got caught. A young woman has to live with the knowledge that she was raped because he is one of those people. A jury of eight men and four women found him guilty of being one of those people.

Attached is a photo of Brock I took in high school. He has always had that huge, loving smile on his face. The caption is even “d’awwww” because he was always the sweetest to everyone. Not everyone.

I appreciate you taking your time to hear about my past with Brock and my opinion on the matter, and I hope you consider what I’ve said when looking into the sentencing. I would not be writing this letter if I had any doubt in my mind that he is innocent.

Thank you again,

Leslie Rasmussen

Published by Breannah

Wife. Mother. Activist. All things empowering women and girls and centering girls of color.

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