Amid backlash against sex assault sentence, reactions, Brock Turner friends remain supportive

Businesses cancel Oakwood band’s shows after letter to judge.

Family friends of ex-Oakwood swimmer Brock Turner say they still support the 20-year-old convicted in the Stanford University sexual assault of an intoxicated, unconscious woman.

The support has come in many ways, including donations to a legal defense fund, letters written to the judge who sentenced Turner to six months in county jail, and supportive posts on social media — the same realm reaming Turner's father, Dan, for characterizing the attack as "20 minutes of action."

“We posted the message of support because we know the family,” said Marco Saccaggi, a former NCR Corp. executive who lived in Oakwood before the company moved to Georgia. “When we were in Dayton, they were extremely good, honest people.”

Turner faced up to 10 years in prison, not jail, after a jury convicted him of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person; penetration of an intoxicated person; and penetration of an unconscious person.

Asked if the six-month jail sentence for Turner is appropriate, Saccaggi placed his trust in the legal system.

“It is not for me to judge,” Saccaggi said. “We were not there, we don’t know the facts. We trust the system.”

Orchestrating the system in this case is Judge Aaron Persky, who received the letter from Turner's father and another from childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen. Both letters incited outrage on social media and garnered national attention for their requests for leniency and suggestion that the victim was in part responsible for her assault.

Rasmussen wrote in support of Turner, referencing their childhood together in Oakwood. The member of local indie band Good English defended her friend in the letter, obtained by New York Magazine.

“Brock has been a peer of mine since elementary school and was a very close friend of mine for a few years in high school,” said Rasmussen, noting Turner once dated a mutual acquaintance. “His family is a very respectable family in town.”

Arguing “rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists,” Rasmussen continued, “I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next 10+ 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.”

In a lengthy victim impact statement, the woman attacked by Turner behind a dumpster following a January 2015 Stanford University fraternity party emphatically argued neither her intoxication nor Turner’s is to blame.

“Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes,” she wrote. “But alcohol was not the one who stripped me … had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked.”

Rasmussen’s letter led to the band’s blacklisting at venues across the country. Following a Monday night performance at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 on Brown Street, management cancelled the band’s July 2 show.

“We don’t stand for that,” said manager Brad Hall.

Other venues, including the Dayton Music, Art & Film Festival, removed the band from upcoming shows. The local festival posted on Facebook, “Such actions should not be defended, friend or not.” And asked by phone if the band would play an upcoming show at Industry City Distillery, the manager of the Brooklyn, New York, bar said “Absolutely not.”

“We have zero tolerance for the act that was committed, or the justifying of that act,” Ronak Parikh said.

Attempts to reach Rasmussen and members of the Turner family were not immediately successful.

During a recent visit, Saccaggi said the Turners were “very concerned” over their son and and the loss of “the bright future he had in front of him.”

Saccaggi posted a message of support on a now-defunct Facebook page created to solicit donations for the family's legal defense fund. Saccaggi said he intends to donate in support of the "extremely respectful" swimmer who once shared a pool with his son.

“My wife remembered he was always the first one to say ‘seat belts’ in the car,” Saccaggi said. “For us, it was really a shock. It is not the Brock we know.”

The Facebook page where Saccaggi posted his support was created by a woman said to be “a lifelong friend, mother and person who has watched this family grow.” The now-inactive page offered instructions on how to donate to the fund, which Wright-Patt Credit Union officials confirmed Tuesday was started by Dan Turner and is still active to receive donations.

This newspaper attempted to contact the creator of the Facebook page by phone but did not receive a reply. The individual wrote the Turners “are dealing with a monumental life-changing and tragic situation with Brock and their expenses continue to mount. As a mother and friend, I would do anything to help my child and save him.”

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