TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains details of sexual assault that may be distressing to some readers.
In January 2015, Stanford University student Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. He was caught by two fellow students and later arrested by police.
In March 2016 Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault by a jury, and last week he was sentenced to just six months of jail time.
Since his sentencing, the powerful impact statement of Turner’s victim has been seen around the world and helped further the imperative discussion around rape culture.
Here, we publish Turner’s statement – including the lies he told in a bid to secure a reduced sentence – which shows the lack of understanding and ownership he appears to have towards his crime.
Despite witness evidence that the victim was unconscious Turner maintains she gave consent.
The court did not believe him.
“The day of January 17th, 2015, started out like most of my days at school were spent, by getting up and going to swim practice. Having spent the past four months on campus living around my friends who were essentially all on the swim team, I had plans to spend time with them later that day. Coming from a small town in Ohio, I had never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol.
However, when I came to school in California, it had become what I expected when spending a Saturday with friends.
On one instance of a Saturday of drinking, I was walking to one of the home football games with my recently found friends on the swim team.
I thought things were going great, I was having a beer with them while walking to the game and experiencing what were supposedly ‘the best years of my life’. I thought it was cool to be able to have a beer with friends while walking to a football game. However, the day ended by having been charged with a minor in possession for drinking alcohol.
This should of opened myself to the dangers of drinking. I regrettably brushed off the incident as a mistake, but not a mistake that should change my behaviour with drinking and being around the environment that enables it.
Having spent most of my time around people that consumed alcohol daily, I thought it was fundamental to being in college and living like a college student. Even though I had been charged with a crime, it didn’t deter me from still drinking, because I carelessly thought that it was at the core essentials of being a college student and I shouldn’t let one incident change my idea of what being in college meant.
During this discovery of what I thought was a college lifestyle, I also had the opportunity to witness on multiple occasions people being intimate at parties that involved alcohol.
I remember attending social gatherings with the swim team where these things were not only accepted but almost encouraged for the freshman experience. Over the course of a couple of months at school, I grew more accepting of these characteristics and began to think of it as normal behaviour for one to meet people of the opposite sex at parties that involved drinking.
The swim team set no limits on partying or drinking and I saw the guys take full advantage of these circumstances, while I was shown to do the same.
I witness countless times the guys that I looked up to go to parties, meet girls and take the girl that they had just met back with them.
The guys that I thought highly of would dance with girls while being intoxicated and encouraged me to participate in the party like they were.
I was an inexperienced drinker and partygoer, so I just accepted these things that they showed me as normal. Living more than two thousands miles away from home, I looked to the guys on my swim team as family and tried to replicate their values in how they approached college life.
That’s why on January 17th, I was excited to attend a party that my friend, who was a freshman on the team at the time, was hosting at his dorm room. If I could go back and change what unfolded on the night of January 17th, I would do it in a heartbeat because I never meant to hurt anyone. I arrived at that party with two other friends of mine that were also swimmers.
Once I was there, I began consuming alcohol in the form of beer while socialising with the people at the party. I had approximately five beers while I was in his room. I eventually drank two swigs of Fireball whisky in addition to the beer that I had already drank.
I felt comfortable and safe knowing that I was just one of many members of the swim team that were there. It felt as though my behaviour with consuming alcohol was completely ordinary and what was accepted within my new-found family. Eventually, the party at my freshman classmate’s dorm got broken up by the RA’s around 11 o’clock due to the noise restrictions set by them.
At this time I was with my friend, [REDACTED], and about eight other people. The people who weren’t freshman in the group were looking for other parties to venture to.
In my short time spent at school, I had become familiar with the fact that people would usually try and head to the fraternity parties after being at a smaller party as the night got later.
The night of January 17th was no exception to this fact.
As I was travelling with this small group that originated from my friend’s dorm party he had just held, someone verbalised that the fraternity Kappa Alpha was holding a party that we could attend. I didn’t hold an opinion one way or the other of where the group’s final destination should be.
Over the course of a couple minutes, the majority of people in the group decided to walk to the party at Kappa Alpha and I followed with them. I arrived at the frat party through the back entrance of the house. As I passed through the patio doors into the basement area of the house, I spotted my captain of the swim team playing a drinking game.
I started talking with him while he was playing the game alongside another senior on the swim team. I was just hanging out at the party in the basement area, enjoying my time at the party with the guys I looked up to.
Someone then decided to turn the lights off downstairs, which signalled for people to stop playing the drinking games and start dancing on top of the tables that they were being playing upon.
Hanging around my captain once this happened, he encouraged me to start having more fun. So taking his advice, I get a top one of the tables and began dancing. Eventually, myself and another girl that was dancing on the same table began dancing together.
We grinded together, which means that I was behind her and both our hips were touching in a side to side motion in accordance with the beat of the song. After a couple of songs, I get down and go outside to cool off and see what was happening on the patio area of the party. As I walk outside, I find [REDACTED], the friend who I walked to the part with, along with one of my swim team friends talking.
I go up to them and begin talking with them. After a period of time of doing this, [REDACTED] finds a case of beer on the ground which he pointed out to me. [REDACTED] then hands me a beer and I start to drink it, while him and [REDACTED] the other friend who was with us, prepare to shotgun their beer.
Before they do this, two girls are hanging around us and [REDACTED] asks them if they want any of the beer that they’re about to shotgun. They both accept the beer and join in with the three of us.
[REDACTED] and the two girls all shotgun their beer or begin drinking it, while I sip on mine because I wasn’t planning on shotgunning the beer. After a period of time, I eventually find myself talking with one of the girls that [REDACTED] handed beer to and [REDACTED]. We were basically introducing ourselves, explaining that we went to school at the campus and that we were both on the swim team.
She was explaining how she went to Cal Poly, and then that quipped [REDACTED] into talking about how he had a sibling who went there as well. I thought me and her were enjoying each other’s company, when she got up close to me and said that she was astonished that I looked exactly like one of her friends at the school that she went to.
I took this as a sign that she was flirting with me and after a period of more socialising, I find myself kissing her. We kissed for less than five seconds or so, until both our teeth hit each others’ and we both pull away. I remember that we both laughed about it that our teeth had hit and it was kind of awkward that I began to blush.
She goes along with her friends somewhere and I head back inside the party to see if I could find anyone that I knew to hangout with. After a period of time of just hanging out inside the party and being on my phone, I see the other girl that was on the patio when [REDACTED] and I were talking and drinking beer.
I go up to her and tell her that I liked her dancing. We started talking together since I thought we had hung out for some amount of time before. I asked her if she wanted to dance, so we began to dance together and eventually started kissing each other. I bring up the idea of her coming back to my dorm room and she agrees to accompany me back there. We begin walking back to my room towards the path that would eventually lead me up to my house.
During this time, we walk down a slope in the direction toward the path we were heading. The next thing I realise is that we were both on the ground laying next to each other because it seemed as though she lost her footing heading down the slope and I went down with her.
We started laughing about it and I was just thinking of how much of a klutz I could be. I ask her if she was all right and she tells me that she thought she was. After this happened, we started kissing each other again on the ground on which we fell. When this started to happen, the thought of making it back to my dorm left my head.
I thought things were going fine with [REDACTED] and that I just existed in a reality where nothing can go wrong or nobody could think of what I was doing as wrong. Never did I question the fact of where [REDACTED] and I were and where we should have been. I naively assumed that it was accepted to be intimate with someone in a place that wasn’t my room. Negating all these factors, I bring up the thought of sexual interaction with her.
I idiotically rationalised that since we had been making out where each of us fell to the ground, that it would be a good idea to take things a step further since we were just in the heat of the moment at that location. I pull away from kissing her and whisper in her ear if she wanted me to finger her. She responds to me and acknowledges what I said with saying, ‘Yeah’.
Having heard her response, I decide to take her underwear off thinking that since it was established that I would finger her, the only way of accomplishing this was to pull down her underwear. After doing so, I began to kiss her again and then finger her until I thought she was satisfied with the sexual interaction that had taken place based on her moaning and the way in which she held onto me with her arms on my back.
While this was occurring, I asked her if she was enjoying what I was doing, to which she gave me a positive response. I stopped the fingering and began to move my hips against the upward movement of her hips, while I kissed her neck and ear mostly. At no time did it ever occur to me, or did it ever seem that [REDACTED] was too drunk to know what we were doing. I would not have done anything against anyone’s will.
After a period of time of continuing these movements in co-ordination with her, the beer and the alcohol I consumed began to unsettle my stomach. I began to experience nausea and everything started to spin in my field of vision. I announced to [REDACTED] that I thought I was about to throw up because of the way my stomach was feeling to which she responds ‘oh okay’, seemingly surprised by the fact that I felt that way.
I proceed to get up from laying on the ground with her to all fours at first since my balance was still not easily being maintained. Eventually I get my feet underneath me and start walking down the slope to find an appropriate place to throw up. At this moment I realise that there is someone trying to get my attention that is quickly headed in my direction. I start walking away from the slope in which [REDACTED] and I were to continue to seek a location in which to throw up.
As I proceeded to walk, the person that was trying to get my attention approached me even closer. During this time, he was speaking in some foreign language with someone else. All I could make out of what he was saying to me was something along the lines of ‘hey’ or ‘what the f***’.
Before I could even think of a response as to what to say to him to try and appease whatever his concerns with me were, I find my arms being grabbed by him. This caused me to think that he was trying to fight with me or mess with me in someway and I had no idea why. Fear went through my body, which caused me to resist him in anyway I could. I broke his physical connection to my body and tried running away from him, soon finding myself on the ground with him holding my arms down and preventing me from ever getting up.
I screamed out for help ten or fifteen times before I realised my shouting would be helpless since no one was coming to help me. I repeatedly tried to get him to talk about whatever his strife was, but he refused to do so. During my time of being restrained on the ground, I heard someone was going to call the police. I thought that it was a good idea that the police were coming because I thought they would help me.
Once the police arrived, I finally stood up until I heard that I would have to get back on the ground and put my hands behind my back. I was shocked to realise that it was me who they were arresting. I swear I never would have done any of this if [REDACTED] wasn’t willing. I haven’t done that at any time in my life and wouldn’t do it now.
I get taken back to the police station and put in a room with a wooden bench. I was told I couldn’t use the bathroom or having anything to eat or drink and should just start sleeping on the bench.
None of the police were telling me what was happening to me until someone came in after they had taken my clothes and swabbed my body for some reason. He told me that I was being charged with rape and I immediately responded with complete and utter shock.
He then said to me that he agreed it was a hard thing to wake up to and I just thought are you kidding me? Then he told me that someone was going to come in and interview me. Eventually that person came and all I could think during that interview was that I never raped someone and would never even think about doing that.
I wish I would have forced myself at the time to remember every single minute detail that happened that night and express that. I wish I would have said that I know I didn’t run from [REDACTED] but did run from the guy that I was fearful of even if it was just a fight or flight reaction. I didn’t think that what I didn’t say would be such a huge deal because I know I never raped anybody that night and that’s all that would matter.
I thought that all I had to communicate was the truth — that in no way was I trying to rape anyone, in no way was I trying to harm anyone, and in no way was I trying to take advantage of anyone. However, at the end of the interview, the officer told me that they had probable cause to take me to jail and that’s where I would be going. I was in complete shock and disbelief during the entire process. I could only think of my family and getting in contact with them.
The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever. I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life.
Not only have I altered my life, but I’ve also changed [redacted] and her family’s life. I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [REDACTED].
It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of every day since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind.
During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [REDACTED]. I can barely hold a conversation with someone without having my mind drift into thinking these thoughts. They torture me.
I go to sleep every night having been crippled by these thoughts to the point of exhaustion. I wake up having dreamt of these horrific events that I have caused. I am completely consumed by my poor judgment and ill thought actions. There isn’t a second that has gone by where I haven’t regretted the course of events I took on January 17th/18th. My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this. I am a changed person.
At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed. I never want to experience being in a position where it will have a negative impact on my life or someone else’s ever again. I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case.
I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me.
All I can do from these events moving forward is by proving to everyone who I really am as a person. I know that if I were to be placed on probation, I would be able to be a benefit to society for the rest of my life. 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 recognise 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]. My poor decision making and excessive drinking hurt someone that night and I wish I could just take it all back.
If I were to be placed on probation, I can positively say, without a single shred of doubt in my mind, that I would never have any problem with law enforcement. Before this happened, I never had any trouble with law enforcement and I plan on maintaining that. I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behaviour that I briefly experienced in my four months at school. I’ve lost my chance to swim in the Olympics.
I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunity, my reputation and most of all, my life. These things force me to never want to put myself in a position where I have to sacrifice everything. I would make it my life’s mission to show everyone that I can contribute and be a positive influence on society from these events that have transpired.
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 now, as I did not, that things can go from fun to ruined in just one evening.”
IF this post or any of the comments bring up any issues for you, or if you need to speak to someone please call 1800-RESPECT or the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017. It does not matter where about you live in Australia, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.