Photo: Santa Clara County PD
About 3 months ago, a young man from the little town right next to mine, where the value of your home triples as soon as you cross the city line, became uber-famous. Or infamous, if you will. His name is Brock Turner, and in January 2014, he raped an unconscious woman on the campus of Stanford, where he was both a student and a swimmer. Since he was convicted by a jury of three felony counts of sexual assault, I don’t have to say “allegedly”—he did it.
And that was the first travesty associated with Brock Turner. The rape of a defenseless woman.
The second travesty, the one that really made him famous, was the fact that in spite of his conviction, Brock did not receive anything close to the maximum sentence of up to 14 years in prison. Instead, Judge Aaron Persky, who seems like a super-swell dude, said he was afraid prison time might hurt Brock’s shiny future, and he gave him 6 months in county jail, only 3 of which he was expected to serve.
Which brings me to the third travesty. Brock Turner will be released from jail two days from now, on Friday, September 2, 2016, having served 3 months for his heinous crime. Since he has requested to serve out his probation in Ohio, and the request has been granted, Brock Turner will be coming home. Back to my neck of the woods.
His parents have moved to a different town, so now he’ll live 15 minutes away instead of 5, but somehow that doesn’t do much to allay my disgust at having him nearby. Let’s hope no ladies drink too much at the neighborhood block party, because, after all, since Brock never actually took responsibility for his actions or said he was sorry, I don’t think he can be trusted. I mean, he has to register as a sex offender here in Ohio, sure, but since SO MANY PEOPLE from here (39!) wrote letters to Judge Persky saying what a SWELL guy Brock is, you never know where he might turn up. Obviously, he still has some supporters here. For awhile they had a really disgusting, insulting, victim-blaming Facebook group in support of him but eventually they realized that was a super bad idea and the took it down.
And speaking of those letters, since both his mom and dad wrote letters to the judge in which they stated how they had absolute faith that their baby boy would never rape someone, letters which never mentioned the victim’s suffering but repeatedly mentioned Brock’s suffering (and their own, remember, his mom couldn’t even sum up the energy to hang pictures on the wall in her new house!) I don’t think Brock is coming back to an environment that’s going to encourage him to change.
Welcome home, Brock Turner.
Here is what your homecoming has in store. As a woman and the mother of a daughter, I will be watching out for you. I will be looking twice at the college-aged guy at the gas station or the one in line in front of my family at Chipotle. As a Christian I wish you no ills, but I’m not going to offer a friendly smile if I see you out and about, either. What might that invite? Shudder.
Your victim expressed that she DID wish you would come back here because your presence in her local area “makes her nervous.” Well, your presence in my local area makes me nervous, too. But the thought of her experiencing any relief from the nightmare you plunged her into does make me feel good. So the women here of the Miami Valley will take one for the team. We’ll shoulder the nervousness and we’ll heighten our awareness and we’ll pray that you actually do any and all of those things to get your life together and CHANGE that you told the judge you would do.
Although since he didn’t really punish you, I don’t know what motivation you now have for doing them.
But I’ll pray anyway. Maybe God will soften my heart and I won’t revile you any more, but that’s going to be a process. Because the truth is,—and it’s an uncomfortable truth for me—as a follower of Christ I am called to give you grace. I cannot hate you, I cannot wish that vigilantes would give you “what you deserve.” I cannot call you names and make a voodoo doll in your likeness.
What I can and will do is be watchful and protective. Any time a sex offender moves nearby that is my calling as a parent, my duty to myself as a woman. So while I will strive to do you no harm, I will also strive not to forget what you have done and how you never really seemed to be sorry for hurting another human being.
So Brock. Welcome back. Your “20 minutes of action” is up, your 3 months of jail are over, and your “re-entry” into society is about to begin.
I pray you can become a redeemed man, because I know with God all things are possible. But if I’m being honest…I also hope I don’t see you around anytime soon.