Stanford Swimmer Blames Peer Pressure and Campus Drinking Culture for Sex Assault in Letter to Judge: 'I've Lost My Chance to Swim in the Olympics'
The Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman blames alcohol for his actions
brightcove.createExperiences(); Last Thursday Brock Turner, a 20-year-old former Stanford University student, was sentenced to six months in county jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside a fraternity party in January 2015.
The sentence drew widespread criticism and gained national attention after the survivor shared an emotional letter directed at Turner, which she read in court after his sentencing.
Turner was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault. He has admitted to the sexual contact but maintained it was consensual.
A spokesperson from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office tells PEOPLE: ‘We hope the worldwide discussion of this crime sentence and the victim s powerful letter has helped raise awareness about campus sexual assault.’
In a newly released statement to the judge, Turner blames alcohol and drinking culture for his actions, and focuses on the loss of his athletic scholarship and Olympic dreams.
Below are excerpts from the statement read at Turner’s sentencing hearing:
“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].”
The statement continues: “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.”
It continues: “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,” it continues. “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 recognize 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.”
The statement continues: “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.
The statement continues: “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 behavior 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.
“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 night.”