A New York City music festival on Tuesday dropped a band from its lineup after the group's drummer wrote a letter seeking leniency for Brock Turner, the ex-Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault.
Leslie Rasmussen, of the Ohio band Good English, defended her childhood friend Turner, 20, and blamed political correctness and underage drinking for his arrest and conviction after two grad students caught him sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on Stanford's campus in 2015.
"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," Rasmussen wrote in a letter, obtained by The Cut, to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. "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."
Soon after Rasmussen's letter became public, the Northside Festival announced Good English would not perform as scheduled. Other venues also have canceled concert dates the band had lined up in Brooklyn for this week, according to Pitchfork and Gothamist.
Outrage swelled after Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail last week for his three felony convictions, despite state guidelines recommending a minimum of two years in state prison. Turner faced a maximum 14-year sentence after being found guilty 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.
The backlash has been strongest against the judge, and an online petition seeking his removal from the bench has garnered nearly half a million signatures. Rasmussen finds herself in the same boat as Turner's father, who was roundly criticized for his letter to the judge claiming his son had already been punished enough for "20 minutes of action."
Rasmussen defended her letter in a post on Good English's Facebook account.
"I understand that this appeal has now provided an opportunity for people to misconstrue my ideas into a distortion that suggests I sympathize with sex offenses and those who commit them or that I blame the victim involved. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I apologize for anything my statement has done to suggest that I don’t feel enormous sympathy for the victim and her suffering," Rasmussen wrote.
Rasmussen and Good English have not responded to The Huffington Post's requests for comment.