Letters asked judge for leniency in Brock Turner case

Local judge said swimmer convicted in sexual assault should get probation.

Ex-Oakwood swimmer Brock Turner’s defense team prepared an arsenal of support ahead of his sentencing on sexual assault charges, with Oakwood Municipal Court Judge Margaret Quinn writing, “I know Brock did not go to that party intending to hurt, or entice, or overpower anyone.”

Worldwide scorn continues to pour in over a sentence by a California judge that many say is too lenient and the efforts by family members and others to support Turner, who was a 19-year-old student and swimmer at Stanford University when the sexual assault took place.

MORE COVERAGE: Amid backlash, Brock Turner friends remain supportive

A sentencing memo from Prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci alleges that Turner was dishonest in his letter to the judge about his use of alcohol and drugs at Stanford and Oakwood High School.

The text messages and a video found on the cell phone that police seized from Turner, as first reported by the San Jose Mercury News, paint a different portrait of him than his contention that he wasn’t exposed much to alcohol “coming from a small town in Ohio.”

The memo says the cell phone data shows he was smoking, buying and sharing marijuana as early as April 2014, before going off to college.

The letter from Quinn was among at least 39 written to the judge in the case, Aaron Persky of Santa Clara Superior Court. The letters, including several from residents in the Dayton area, have not been released publicly but were obtained by many news organizations, including this one.

Quinn said in an interview Wednesday that she has received threats over her letter. “There’s a lot more to this story that what is on social media,” said Quinn, a former federal prosecutor.

Turner was convicted of intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. The assault, which involved digital penetration, occurred on Jan. 18, 2015, behind a dumpster outside a fraternity house.

Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and three months probation. He was also ordered to complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life. His attorney is appealing the sentence.

In Quinn’s April 28 letter, she wrote that she has known Turner, his parents and siblings for 15 years through Holy Angels parish organizations, elementary and high school activities and as neighbors.

Her letter called for options less severe than prison. “I believe a prison term will serve no useful purpose in Brock’s case,” she wrote. “He is forever changed by the events of that night. Judge, please consider other options to prison — options which will serve the purpose for which a prison sentence is imposed, and options which will leave a future for this very scared young man.”

Probation, she wrote, could include reporting requirements, counseling and community service.

“There is no doubt Brock made a mistake that night — he made a mistake in drinking excessively to the point where he could not fully appreciate that his female acquaintance was so intoxicated,” she wrote.

Turner has said he did not realize the victim was passed out.

Quinn’s letter noted the negative impact a prison sentence could have on Turner, an Olympic hopeful who earned his way into Stanford, one of the nation’s most academically rigid schools, and planned to earn a degree in electrical engineering.

“As I know you are aware, the collateral consequences of a conviction are staggering,” Quinn told the judge. “The immediate consequences of Brock’s conviction go far beyond expulsion from Stanford or loss of a swimming scholarship. While shameful to a 19-year-old freshman, those consequences pale when measured against the requirement of continued registration as a sex offender, or the very limited job opportunities that will be available to Brock.”

Quinn told this newspaper that she has not read the negative reaction to her letter on social media. But, she said, “If people wanted to do some good instead of being so hateful, they would look at the whole cultural situation and how change could be affected on campuses. It’s a sad situation for everyone.”

“You say something and it’s torn apart and all blown the wrong way,” she said about the reaction against those who wrote letters in support of Turner. “I don’t want to say any more because I have had threats at work. I do hope somebody searches for the truth and the bigger story in all this.”

In her letter to Judge Persky, the victim acknowledged having too much to drink at the party. She said she remembers nothing about the incident, but described in detail what happened afterward.

Turner, she said, selected her after he had been rejected by others at the party. Later, he acknowledged he didn’t even know her name.

“I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me,” she wrote.

In her lengthy letter, she said she did not want Turner to “rot away in prison,” but also said the court should not provide him with leniency.

“The fact that Brock was a star athlete at a prestigious university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a strong cultural message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class,” she wrote.

Turner, too, wrote to the judge.

“I would give anything to change what happened that night,” he wrote. “I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone.”

But Turner also appeared to downplay his awareness of drinking and partying in the letter.

“Coming from a small town in Ohio, I had never really experienced celebrating or partying that involved alcohol,” he wrote. “Living more than 2,000 miles from home, I looked to the guys on my swim team as family and tried to replicate their values in how they approached college life.”

But the prosecutor’s memo refers to texts that indicate Turner engaged in drug use at Oakwood and Stanford. On Christmas Eve 2004, several weeks before the assault, an apparent acquaintance said he had “a hankerin for a good acid trip,” according to one of the text messages.

“I’m down for sure,” Turner replied to the friend, according to the memo.

A video during that same month showed Turner “drinking out of a bottle of liquor immediately after taking a ‘bong hit,’”according to the memo.

Oakwood High School guidance counselor Kelly D. Owens wrote the judge, saying Turner is “a young man of character, integrity” and “seeks opportunities to help others, and is absolutely undeserving of the outcome” in the sexual assault trial.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Owens said, “I really don’t want to talk about it.”

But later Wednesday, the district released a statement saying Owens has apologized for injecting herself into the criminal case.

“Of course he should be held accountable,” she wrote. “I pray for the victim, her family and all those affected by this horrible event.”

Superintendent Kyle Ramey added: “Our district is shocked and saddened by the behavior of Brock Turner.”

Dean Olson, program director for Wright State University’s Division of Aerospace Medicine, described Turner in his April 22 letter to the judge as a “quiet, mild mannered young man who for all intents and purposes was psychologically sound, who had a well-adjusted personality, and who harbored no ill will.”

Olson wrote that he has “superficially known Brock for several years,” and trained with him during the time when his trial approaching.

It was clear Turner “was scared of his upcoming trial and that he demonstrated regret, remorse and shame, not only for himself, but for his family and most importantly the woman involved in the incident,” he wrote.

Jeff Coudron, the owner of Speedy Feet, a timing company for running, cycling and triathlon races, told the judge he first worked with Turner in February 2015, after Turner assaulted the victim.

“The media never mentioned the girl’s name to protect her, but they plastered Brock’s everywhere, even before he was tried,” Coudron wrote. “I knew that even if he was found innocent, Brock’s life was never going to be the same, but I still hoped for an innocent verdict.”

Coudron did not respond to a request for comment.

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