Brock Turner’s parents questioned sending him back to Stanford University after a breakdown he had during Christmas Break 2014 — the same time he was telling his swim teammates he was “down for sure” to trip acid when he got back to California.
A trove of documents released by the Santa Clara County Superior Court reveal new details about Turner’s behavior leading up to the night he assaulted an intoxicated, unconscious woman near a dumpster after a Stanford fraternity party.
Throughout the letters to Judge Aaron Persky at sentencing, Turner and his parents identify the Oakwood High School graduate’s partying and drinking as a result of his being around friends on the Stanford swim team.
“I stupidly thought it was OK for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking,” Turner told a probation officer pre-sentencing.
Turner’s willingness to pin his actions on alcohol and partying were rejected by the victim in a letter that she read at her assailant’s sentencing to a six-month jail term — a punishment already reduced to three months, according to jail officials.
“Again, you were not wrong for drinking,” she wrote. “Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me.”
Turner was convicted of penetration of an intoxicated person, intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, and penetration of an unconscious person. The assault, which involved digital penetration, occurred early Jan. 18, 2015.
With the exception of the victim, whose identity has not been released by the court, this newspaper attempted to contact all parties mentioned in this story, but no responses were obtained.
Turner’s defense sought to exclude reference to his prior struggles at Stanford, specifically a minor in possession of alcohol charge from November 15, 2014.
“He has never been in trouble, never even had a demerit in high school, he studied, swam, worked hard — he has lived an exemplary life,” Carleen Turner wrote about her son.
Brock Turner, however, offered a slightly different narrative to the judge before sentencing.
“I thought it was cool to be able to have a beer with friends while walking to a football game,” Turner wrote about walking on campus before a football game. “However, the day ended by having been charged with a minor in possession for drinking alcohol.”
“This should have opened myself to the dangers of drinking,” he wrote, saying he brushed the incident off as a mistake.
In Turner’s same letter to the judge before sentencing, he too neglects the prior incident with law enforcement.
“Before this (the assault) happened, I never had any trouble with law enforcement and I plan on maintaining that,” he wrote.
Turner, according to officers at the November incident, fled on foot that afternoon despite their orders to stop. Police called Turner by phone and he returned to the scene, dressed in a bright orange tuxedo and emitting “the odor of alcohol.”
Turner admitted to trying to hide a backpack of Coors Light from officers, the prosecution wrote in a sentencing memo. “He said it was a split-second decision and he regretted making it.”
His parents said their son did not adjust well to Stanford.
“What we didn’t realize was the extent to which Brock was struggling being so far from home,” Dan Turner wrote the judge.
He continued, “When Brock was home during Christmas break, he broke down and told us how much he was struggling to fit in socially and the fact that he did not like being so far from home.”
Brock Turner’s mother described her son as “homesick.” Her husband wrote their son was “nearly distraught knowing that he had to return early from Christmas break for swimming training camp.”
“We even questioned whether it was the right move to send him back to Stanford for the winter quarter,” he wrote.
“In hindsight, it’s clear that Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into the culture of alcohol consumption and partying. This culture was modeled by many of the upperclassmen on the swim team and played a role in the events of Jan 17th and 18th 2015,” he wrote.
At least two Stanford swimmers defended his character before the judge ordered a sentence. One was Tom Kremer, a senior who shared a lane in the pool with Turner and walked to the party at the Kappa Alpha house with him the night of the assault.
“While other freshmen predictably took advantage of the lack of parents and rules, Brock quickly gained a reputation as the responsible newcomer to the team, often spending his spare time with other tamer upperclassmen,” Kremer wrote, adding Turner “would often help other teammates to realize when they were being overly rowdy or rambunctious.”
Dan Turner indicated his son’s upbringing as an Ohioan was a hindrance to living far from home.
“He was ready academically and athletically, but it was simply too far from home for someone who was born and raised in the Midwest,” he wrote.
New text messages released by the court show Turner originally thought acid was “not that great honestly,” he wrote in July 2014. But it was during this Christmas break back home that Turner exchanged text messages regarding drug use with sophomore Stanford swimming teammates.
On Christmas Eve 2014, Turner received a group text message from a sophomore teammate that read, “I’ve got a hankerin for a good acid trip when we get back.” Turner replied to two sophomore teammates, “I’m down for sure.”
Nearly a week earlier, Turner exchanged texts with a friend from Ohio whose conversations about drug use over the course of several prior months establish the bulk of the prosecution’s text message exhibits.
Turner asked the individual, “Do you think I could buy some wax so we could do some dabs?” According to the prosecution’s sentencing brief, “dabs are a highly concentrated potent form of marijuana that is a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrated mass.”
The prosecution continued, “There is another group message about pulling money together to buy 30 tabs on January 13, 2015.” The messages were exchanged with sophomore members of the Stanford swim team five days before the assault.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.