Convicted rapist Brock Turner shouldn’t spend years in jail for “20 minutes of action,” his father argued to the court in a letter that sparked intense backlash. His mother also penned a plea for mercy and glowing assessment of her “beautiful son.” The 20-year-old former Stanford swimming star will serve about three months behind bars for sexually assaulting a blacked-out victim behind a dumpster.
Judge Aaron Persky, himself a former Stanford athlete, cited positive character references and lack of criminal record when sparing Turner what could have been 14 years of hard time.
Leslie Rasmussen, a longtime family friend, has also come under fire for her letter in support of Brock Turner. Her band, Good English, has had several shows cancelled because of the outrage directed toward her.
Brock Turner and his two siblings were raised in Dayton, Ohio, by his father, Dan, a civilian Air Force employee, and his mother, Carleen, a registered surgery nurse.
Here’s what you need to know about his parents:
1. A Financial Support Page Was Set Up on Facebook to Help the Family Pay for the ‘Tragic Situation With Brock’
In May 2015, a friend of the Turner family set up a Facebook page designed to help raise money for the family to aid Brock’s criminal defense. The page was deleted, but you can see a screen shot of it below:
The fund the friend was soliciting donations for was set up by Dan Turner, according to the Dayton Daily News. The account is still open, the Wright-Patt Credit Union told the newspaper.
The page reads in part:
As a lifelong friend, mother and person who has watched this family grow, I am reaching out to you on behalf of Dan Turner and Carleen Bradfield Turner.
They 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.
I am asking that you donate what you can as every donation not only helps to ease the financial burden, but it is also a show of support, friendship and solidarity.
It continues after giving readers instructions on how to donate:
Most of us personally know Car, Dan and the kids. I know that while we are not experiencing what they are feeling, my heart and faith continue to want to help and be supportive. I am asking for your help with this.
We can’t ease their pain but I hope that we can help ease the financial burden that this situation has caused.
One friend of the family wrote under the post, “Yes thank you for doing this!!” It had 44 likes when it was deleted and showed a photo of Dan and Carleen together as well as a family photo. A meme featuring a person sitting on a bench and the words “I am strong but I am tired” was also featured.
Another family friend, Marco Saccaggi, told the Dayton Daily News he plans to donate to the help Turner, who he called “extremely respectful.”
“My wife remembered he was always the first one to say ‘seat belts’ in the car,” Saccaggi told the newspaper. “For us, it was really a shock. It is not the Brock we know.”
2. Dan Turner Has Been Harshly Criticized for His Plea for Lenience, Citing the ’20 Minutes of Action’ Involved in the Attack
In a letter to the judge that he read aloud in court, Dan said his son was already paying “a steep price … for 20 minutes of action.” He went on:
He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.
Dan joked that his son no longer had a hunger for steaks or snack foods and said that prison would not be an “appropriate punishment.”
He added that his son would be “totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results.”
According to military documents, Dan Turner works as a civilian contractor for the Air Force, assisting with technology projects needed to help build weaponry.
A photo from Carleen’s now-deleted Facebook page from June 2015 shows Dan Turner with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
3. Carleen Turner Was Active in Her Son’s Burgeoning Swimming Career & Was a Scout Leader
On her LinkedIn page, Carleen Turner says she works as a surgery nurse at Dayton’s Children’s Hospital. She got her degree at Wright State University and previously worked at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. Until 2008, she was a girl scout leader.
Carleen also helped to organize events for Brock’s high school swim team.
The Spring 2007 issue of the Samaritan Health Foundation magazine features the Turner family as being active with the Good Samaritan hospital. Their activity is done in memory of Carleen’s brother, Scott Bradfield.
4. Barry Bonds’ Lawyer, Nicknamed ‘the Last Hope,’ Will Represent Brock in His Appeal
Palo Alto Online reports that Turner is planning an appeal against his conviction and has enlisted Dennis Riordan, an appellate lawyer.
SF Gate reported in 2011 that Dennis Riordan represented Barry Bonds against perjury charges. The feature notes that Riordan “probes prosecutors’ cases for legal weaknesses — the evidence that violates hearsay rules or the latest court precedent, the proposed jury instructions that tilt the scales toward guilt — in hopes of getting charges narrowed or dismissed. While other lawyers question witnesses and argue to the jury, Riordan tees up the issues that often decide the outcome in higher courts.”
The New York Times referred to his nickname as “the last hope” while also calling him “one of California’s top appellate lawyers … known as a brilliant writer of motions, briefs and jury instructions.”
5. The Victim’s Impact Statement Has Increased the Calls for a Harsher Sentence
Prosecutors in the case had been asking for Brock to serve six years in prison for his crime. Judge Aaron Persky, a Stanford alum, said at sentencing, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.” On June 7, Persky is facing an election, unopposed, in the Santa Clara county election. A Change.org petition has circulated calling for Persky to be recalled.
You can read the full victim’s impact statement here. “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today. The damage is done, no one can undo it,” the victim read aloud in court. “And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”