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Telling the Story of the Stanford Rape Case


In the days after a 20-year-old former Stanford University student received his jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the school’s campus, two letters related to the case and made public have been widely read: one by the victim, and one by the offender’s father.

The victim’s letter was published in full by BuzzFeed on Friday, a day after the 23-year-old woman, who has chosen to stay anonymous, read it aloud to Brock Allen Turner during his sentencing hearing. In the 7,244 word-letter, the woman provides a harrowing, detailed account of her attempted rape in January 2015 and the struggle of trying to survive it. At times, she directly addresses Turner, telling him how that night destroyed her life.

The letter was praised for its “powerful” message that encouraged sexual-assault victims to seek justice against their attackers. It also immediately sparked outrage on social media and elsewhere because of the sentence Turner received for the crimes it described: six months in county jail and three years of probation. Turner faced up to 14 years in state prison when he was convicted last month of three felonies—assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object—and prosecutors had asked for six years. But the judge had ordered much less, saying a harsher sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a star swimmer who could have made it to the Olympics.

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