By Victor Xu
Before the sentencing decision for Brock Turner was made, both the victim, the Turner’s father and Turner read statements to the courtroom. The victim’s letter has circulated nationwide, garnering wide attention. The letter read by Turner’s father, Dan Turner, is shown below.
Honorable Judge Aaron Persky,
I am writing this letter to tell you about my son Brock and the person that I know he is. First of all, let me say that Brock is absolutely devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th 2015. He would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have that night to do over again. In many one-on-one conversations with Brock since that day, I can tell you that he is truly sorry for what occurred that night and for all the pain and suffering that it has caused for all of those involved and impacted by that night. He has expressed true remorse for his actions on that night. Living under that same roof with Brock since this incident, I can tell you firsthand the devastating impact that it has had on my son. Before I elaborate more, I would like to share some memories of my son that demonstrate the quality of his character. Brock has an easygoing personality that endears him to almost everyone he meets.
He has always been a person that people like to be around whether they are male or female. This has been true from the time Brock was in pre-school to today. I have never seen Brock raise his voice to anyone and he doesn’t pre-judge anyone. He accepts them for who they are no more, no less. He has a very gentle and quiet nature and a smile that is truly welcoming to those around him. I have never once heard him brag or boast about any accomplishment that he has ever achieved. He is simply a very humble person who would rather hear about someone else’s accomplishments rather than talk about his own. Brock has an inner strength and fortitude that is beyond anything I have ever seen. This was no doubt honed over many years of competitive swimming and has been a major reason for his ability to cope over the last 15 months.
Brock has always been an extremely dedicated person whether it was academics, sports, or developing and maintaining friendships and relationships. Brock’s dedication to academics started early in grade school. My fondest memory is of helping Brock prepare for his weekly spelling test. Doing well on these tests was very important to Brock and he would start preparing the day before by memorizing the words and making sure he had everything together in his mind. I would have to quiz him over and over just so he was sure he would do well on the test. He’ would make me give him a final preparation quiz as we drove to school on Friday mornings. I can assure you that Brock always did well on these exams. While this example may seem trivial, it was an early indicator of the importance he placed on academic achievement that never left him. As he got older and progressed in school, he needed my intervention less and less as he is gifted in his ability to understand very complicated subject matter. This natural ability along with an extremely strong work ethic lead to academic success at all levels.
Brock was equally talented in athletics participating in baseball, basketball, and swimming. I was his baseball and basketball coach and his Cub Scout den leader for many years during his grade school years. I was so proud to participate and serve as his coach and leader as it meant that I got to spend more time with him. I was also a parent chaperone for many school outings and often times was the only dad along on these field trips. For me, I loved every minute of it because Brock was a pleasure to be around and he always treated the other kids, parents, and teachers with-respect. I will cherish the memories of those years forever.
In the late summer before Brock’s senior year in high school, he applied to Stanford with the dream of taking both his academic and athletic talents to the next, level. Brock had a large amount of interest from many Division-1 coaches due to his swimming success and outstanding grades in school. Many college coaches pursued Brock based on the entire body of work that he represented. However, Stanford was always the apple of his eye and the ultimate prize for someone who had worked so hard for so long. Brock and I first visited Stanford in the summer of 2011 between his freshman and sophomore years in high school. Brock was there to compete in his first national level swim meet called the USA Junior Nationals. We were both totally in awe of the campus, the swimming facilities, and the rich history that the university represented. I remember commenting to Brock at the time that wouldn’t this be a great place to go to school. It was incredible to think about the number of Olympic swimmers that had attended Stanford. This first exposure to Stanford made a lasting impression on Brock. Our family was full of pride and joy when we found out in the fall of 2013 that Brock had been accepted to Stanford. This was a culminating event for Brock as we knew how much work he had put in to get to that point. The thing that made us most proud was the fact that Brock had to be accepted academically before he could be considered for an athletic scholarship. This was especially significant given Stanford’s 4% acceptance rate for that particular year. Brock was awarded a 60% swimming scholarship by the university. Even with such a generous offer, my wife and I both knew it would be a financial struggle for our family for Brock to attend Stanford, but we were determined to make it work because we knew the value of a Stanford education. As Brock’s senior year passed, he was characteristically humble about being admitted to Stanford and continued to work hard until the very last minute of high school on academics and swimming.
When Carleen and I took Brock to Stanford in September 2014 to begin his freshman year, we both felt he was totally prepared for the experience. He had been to many national level swim camps and meets and was comfortable being away from home. We were very excited for Brock as he settled into Stanford during that first quarter as a brand new student athlete. He excelled in school that quarter earning the top GPA for all freshmen on the swim team. What we didn’t realize was the extent to which Brock was struggling being so far from home. Brock was working hard to adapt to the rigors of both school and swimming. When Brock was home during Christmas break, he broke down and told us how much he was struggling to fit in socially and the fact that he did not like being so far from home. Brock was nearly distraught knowing that he had to return early from Christmas break for swimming training camp. We even questioned whether it was the right move to send him back to Stanford for the winter quarter. In hindsight, it’s clear that Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into the culture of alcohol consumption and partying. This culture was modeled by many of the upperclassmen on the “swim team and played a role in the events of Jan 17th and 18th 2015. Looking back at Brock’s brief experience at Stanford, I honestly don’t believe it was the best fit for him. He was ready academically and athletically, but it was simply too far from home for someone who was born and raised in the Midwest. He needed the support structure of being closer to family and friends.
As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015. Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.
Dan A. Turner