Last Thursday, former Stanford University student Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail after being convicted of three felony sexual assault charges for attacking a young woman in January 2015.
Some are pointing to letters from Turner's family and friends to the judge residing over the case, Judge Aaron Persky, as the reason for the 22-year-old's lenient sentence.
One letter came from Turner's childhood friend, Leslie Rasmussen. In her letter (sent before the sentencing), Rasmussen wrote that Turner couldn't possibly have committed this crime because he was "always the sweetest to everyone" in high school.
"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.”
Below is a screen shot of the second half of Rasmussen's letter.
The Huffington Post reached out to Rasmussen but did not hear back by the time of publication.
In the letter, Rasmussen blames drinking and "being politically correct" for what she refers to as a "huge misunderstanding." She also somehow doesn't realize that sexual assaults can be (and usually are) committed by someone a woman knows. "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," she wrote. "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."
Rasmussen even attached a photo of Turner in high school, writing: "He has always had that huge, loving smile on his face. The caption is even 'd’awwwww' because he was always the sweetest to everyone."
Read a full transcript of the above screenshot below:
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 this 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. 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 alway 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. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgement. 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.
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’awwwww” because he was always the sweetest to 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 sentencing. I would not be writing this letter if I had an doubt in my mind that he is innocent.
Head over to The Cut to read the full letter from Rasmussen to Judge Persky.
Another letter sent to the judge came from Turner's father, David A. Turner. "His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," Turner's father wrote. "That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
After the sentencing was announced, the 23-year-old victim wrote a heart-wrenching letter to Turner that she read in court last Thursday. “Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me,” she told Turner in court. “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”