Convicted sex offender Brock Turner argued in letters submitted in court that his behavior on the night of his crime was due to alcohol and a party culture on campus, something some of his supporters suggested as well.
Turner was found guilty of three felony sexual assault charges in March and sentenced last week to six months in jail with three years' probation. The lenient sentence has evoked international outrage following a widely shared statement from his victim and a letter defending Turner from his father.
The Huffington Post obtained court documents this week, including letters of support for Turner submitted to the Judge Aaron Perksy and a report from the probation officer in his case, after the former Stanford University student's conviction.
Turner and his family have not acknowledged in any of their statements that he committed a sexual assault, let alone a crime. He sexually assaulted an unconscious woman next to a dumpster on Stanford's Palo Alto campus, digitally penetrating the woman, near a fraternity party where he met her. Two graduate students passing by interrupted him and pinned him down as other witnesses called police.
After the guilty verdict, Turner continued to insist to his probation officer that the encounter was consensual. He said the victim had simply slipped behind a wooden shed and then he got down on the ground with her and started kissing and fingering her until he got nauseous and decided to walk away. "I naively assumed that it was accepted to be intimate with someone in a place that wasn't my room," Turner said in a statement attached to the report.
“Being drunk I just couldn't make the best decisions and neither could she."”
Turner said of the moment the graduate student tackled him, "I repeatedly tried to get him to talk about whatever his strife was, but he refused to do so." Police arrived on the scene, and Turner said he was "shocked to realize it was me who they were arresting."
But the probation report notes that Turner was acting aggressively toward women earlier in the night.
He was among a group of guys talking to the victim and her sister outside the party and, according to the probation report, was acting "very aggressive, trying to kiss various females at the party." He tried to kiss the victim's sister on multiple occasions and she pushed him away each time. The sister left soon after to help a friend who drank too much alcohol and the victim was gone when she returned.
The report and letters associated to it repeatedly bring up Turner's alcohol intake and the victim's on that night as a reason for why he sexually assaulted her, even if he doesn't acknowledge that.
"If I really wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room," Turner told his probation officer in a pre-sentence interview. "Being drunk I just couldn't make the best decisions and neither could she."
The victim responded to his argument that they were both heavily intoxicated in the statement she read in court:
Alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.
Turner further stated in a second statement attached to the report that he wants to become an example for others about avoiding the college party culture. Below is an excerpt:
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].
He apologized to the victim for the pain he caused her and said his actions were "unforgivable," but he did not acknowledge that he assaulted her.
Margaret M. Quinn, a former federal prosecutor and current Municipal Court Judge in Ohio, similarly argued in a letter submitted to Judge Persky that Turner could speak out about "the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, college partying, and the 'hook-up' culture on college campuses throughout the United States."
Quinn did not return a phone call from HuffPost on Wednesday.
Turner had already paid a "painful price" of being banned from USA swimming and not participating in the Olympics, argued another letter of support from an administrator at Wright State University.
Most of the letters of support argued that Turner was always a respectable advanced placement student in high school and behaved appropriately as a member of various swim teams. The vast majority did not try to insist on Turner's innocence of the crime, except for one from childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen that said she was sure the victim flirted with Turner and left willingly with him. Rasmussen insisted both Turner and the woman had too much to drink.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol increases emotions and feelings," Rasmussen wrote. "I think this is all a huge misunderstanding. ... After the investigation, it should have found Brock to be innocent."
Turner added in that second statement that he never wants to drink again, writing:
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 know, as I did not, that things can go from fun to ruined in just one night.
The probation officer recommended that Turner avoid prison altogether. Instead, the officer said Turner should receive a county jail sentence and then probation for three years, in addition to other financial penalties and stipulations of getting employment and staying sober.
Turner said he plans to study for a degree in electrical engineering. He also said he recently met with an Ohio judge and is in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which he "speaks out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that," the officer added.
Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter, focusing on higher education and sexual violence, and is based in New York. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find him on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.
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