true crime

The heroes who saved the Stanford University rape victim.

After she was brutally raped behind a dumpster at Stanford University, only a few things could bring her any comfort. A chat with her sister, a hug from her boyfriend and the picture of two bicycles pinned above her bed.

That picture – which she sketched herself – was a reminder that “there are heroes in this story.”

This was the glimmer of positivity in an otherwise chilling and heartbreaking impact statement delivered by the victim at the centre of the rape case that has captivated the world.

The unidentified woman delivered the statement during last week’s sentencing hearing for Brock Turner, the all-star swimmer and college freshman convicted of raping her on the Stanford campus in January 2015.

The prosecutor said it was the “most powerful” victim impact statement he had read in his 20 years as a prosecutor.

Turner was given just six months in prison and his lawyers plan to appeal even this short sentence.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me.” You can read the woman’s entire statement here.

The reason for the picture of the bicycles above her bed was simple. Two men – who it’s been revealed were Swedish graduate students – were cycling past the Kappa Alpha fraternity at the time of the attack.

They saw Turner behind the dumpster, laying on top of the woman’s unconscious, partially-clothed body. When Turner tried to flee, they tackled him and pinned him down until authorities arrived.

The identity of the two Swedish heroes remains a mystery. As of last Thursday’s hearing, the woman never met them.

According to the woman’s powerful statement, when one of these students was later interviewed by police “he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.”

“I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the Swedes had never come,” she wrote. “What would have happened to me?”

The university has this morning echoed the woman’s appreciation for the heroism of the two men.

“Stanford urges its students to do the right thing and intervene,” the university said in a statement, “and we are proud of our students for stopping this incident.”

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Unfortunately, it’s since been revealed that another person in Turner’s life has defended his actions.

Just a day after the world read Dan Turner’s disturbing statement in support of his son, it has emerged that the former Stanford student’s female friend did the same.

The Cut, a division of New York Magazine, obtained a letter penned by Brock Turner’s childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen to the judge in the case, in which she describes Turner as “a sweetheart” and claims the entire incident is “a huge misunderstanding”.

Stanford rapist’s father said his son should not be punished for “20 minutes of action”. Read more here.

“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 writes. “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.”

Instead, she pins the problem on the alcohol-fuelled camp-like environment at universities.

“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,” claims Rasmussen, “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.”

Perhaps Rasmussen and Dan Turner’s letters aided Brock’s cause, because Judge Allen Persky’s provision of a six-month sentence is a far cry from the maximum 14 years the 20-year-old could have been handed.

Persky’s decision revolved around two factors: that jail could have a “severe impact” on Turner and that he believed the student “will not be a danger to others”.

The decision has sparked mounting condemnation, with the public calling for Persky (himself a former Stanford student) to be recalled. The campaign is being led by Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber and a change.org petition has already garnered more than 140,000 signatures.

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