A letter to the judge from Brock Turner‘s mother calls the convicted rapist the “most trustworthy and honest person I know.”
The emergence of Carleen Turner‘s glowing assessment of her “beautiful son,” a former Stanford swimmer, comes after his victim’s letter went viral, his father’s letter sparked outrage, and Brock’s own statement maintained the encounter was consensual.
His mother’s letter depicts Brock as a model student and citizen, and she laments the misfortune that has struck her son:
My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?”
She goes on to describe the devastating effect of this “awful, horrible, terrible, gut-wrenching, life-changing verdict” on her family:
My once vibrant and happy boy is distraught, deeply depressed, terribly wounded, and filled with despair. His smile is gone forever-that beautiful grin is no more. … We are devastated beyond belief. My beautiful, happy family will never know happiness again.
In her concluding plea for mercy, she says Brock isn’t tough enough to survive prison and would be a “target” for other inmates:
I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete- all the publicity……..this would be a death sentence for him.
Below is Carleen’s full letter to Judge Aaron Persky, which was released today as part of a 470-page document dump. If you’re viewing on a mobile device, scroll past the PDF embed to read the text version.
Dear Honorable Judge Persky,
Thank-you for the opportunity to write a letter and introduce you to my son, Brock Turner-the REAL Brock Allen Turner. I am abundantly proud to call him my son; he is my heart, my soul, and brings me great joy. From the time he was a little boy, Brock has always been very easy-going, kind, considerate, and respectful. He is incredibly goal-oriented, hard-working, dedicated, studious, humble, and somewhat introverted. He quietly performs and achieves while shying away from any attention and recognition. He always had a smile on his face, a shy grin that was so endearing. I use past tense in referring to his smile because since the verdict, he has not smiled. The expression on his face is one of pure pain and anguish. It is heart-breaking.
I was lucky to be a stay-at-home mom after Brock was born so of our three kids, he is the one I spent the most time with throughout his life. Since his siblings were in college, he also had 3 years of high school being an only child. We sat down to dinner every night together and had great conversations about his future plans and aspirations. He had big dreams and goals and we knew he would achieve all of them because of his strict work ethic and drive.
He struggled with learning the alphabet and reading in his early days and he was sent to the reading tutor at our school. Some kids might be teased about this but his teacher told me he came back and told the class how great it was and how much fun he had; pretty soon the other kids were asking if they could go to the reading tutor. The teacher told me she had never had that happen before but Brock had a very clever way to turn seeing the tutor into a positive. He also set a goal for himself that he would not have to see the tutor by the end of the year and he met that goal. Even as a youngster, he was setting goals and achieving them. He participated in Cub Scouts during grade school with Dan as his Den leader. The scouts sell popcorn in the fall and after a couple of years, Brock decided he wanted to be the top seller for our region. Dan and I do not take order forms to work if our kids are selling a product-it’s on them to sell. Brock would go door to door to sell, he even got a 90-year old lady to buy some. She couldn’t eat popcorn but was impressed that Brock took the time to sit with her on her front porch and talk to her. That’s the kind of kid he was-very respectful and polite.
Our elementary school put on several programs over the years and the big one was the 6th grade musical. Brock’s class did Oliver and he was chosen to play Bill Sykes, the bad guy. His older brother Brent had played Bill Sykes 5 years before and I think that’s why the teacher cast Brock in the role. For Brent it was a bit of type-casting (he was a handful in elementary school), while Brock wouldn’t stop smiling. The teacher said he is supposed to be a mean guy and she could not get Brock to act mean. That’s just him-a nice guy.
Brock started swimming competitively at the age of 4 on our summer swim team. He has always looked up to his brother and since Brent was on the team, Brock wanted to join. The first time he raced the 25 yard backstroke he looked like he was drowning. His coach jumped in after him, fully clothed and walked beside him but did not touch him so he could finish the race. It wasn’t pretty but he did it! The 200 yard backstroke ended up being his first Olympic Trial cut at age 16 so he certainly came a long way in 12 years! From early on, he just loved swimming. He took to it naturally and throughout the years, every coach he has ever had has described him as “coachable” which is exactly what a coach wants. He took advice and direction and was always looking to improve. His work ethic at practice was unmatched and he inspired the other kids to try harder. It takes an incredible amount of dedication to swim at the level Brock was at and it always came from him. He put a lot of pressure on himself and had quite a nervous stomach. He vomited before many a race but he always seemed to swim better after throwing up. His coaches used to worry about this but it seemed to work for him.
Dan and I never pushed him, this was his love and passion. We supported him by driving him to those early morning practices, driving to after school practices, sitting on hard bleachers for 3 days in a row, many weekends a year; but he loved it so much is was worth it. Whenever I would drop him off at a meet, I would say “good luck and have FUN”. There were so many parents who pressured their kids but to us, this was Brock’s choice. Nothing brought me greater joy than watching him at a swim meet. It wasn’t necessarily the racing that I loved, I enjoyed seeing him hanging in the bleachers with his teammates, standing on the deck talking to his coach, I loved the warm ups, and yes-watching him race was great but it was the look on his face when he touched the wall that I enjoyed. He would set a goal for himself with every race and when he achieved it-that smile. He wasn’t a kid to pound the water, to shove a fist up in the air, to celebrate loudly-he never, ever did that. When he won a race, he always waited for every swimmer to finish and he would shake everyone’s hand. He was never arrogant, cocky, or boastful. Far from it-as a swimmer he was incredibly humble and gracious. At our state high school meet, they always had a local cable reporter interviewing the winners after each race and Brock was gracious but uncomfortable having to talk about himself. He would always try to say he was doing his best for the team. As we traveled to national meets, we would see the same faces from all over the country. Parents talk to each other and I was always so proud of Brock when a parent from another team would tell me how much their son liked swimming with Brock because he is so nice and down-to-earth. There is a lot of down time at a swim meet so the kids hang and get to know each other. Brock was respected by his competitors because of his humble nature.
A Brock moved to high school, the swimming hours increased. Every day he was awake at 4:00am for a 5am practice. He would come home cook his breakfast, head to school, and then back to practice for 2 hours after. He also had a very challenging academic schedule. Our school district is very academically-oriented and people more to Oakwood for the schools. Brook took Honors and AP courses and maintained straight-A’s. I asked him how he managed to the grades he did and his answer was he would be mad at himself if he got a B when he knew he was capable of an A. He was a good student and he was respectful of his teachers. Our high school is small so the kids generally know everyone. Brock made many sacrifices while in high school due to the demands of the swimming schedule; the only football games he attended were Homecoming and he never attended a basketball game. He missed out on many social activities as well. He did hang out with his swimmer friends on weekends but because of their early mornings, they were never out late.
He has a very kind and thoughtful side to him. He always went out of his way to do special things for his girlfriend. Asking a girl to the dances is a big deal around here. For Homecoming senior year, we had a new black lab puppy and [she] just loved the pup. Brock put a sign around Zeke’s neck with “Homecoming?” on it-that was how he asked her and [she] loved it. However, his ‘prom-posal’ was the talk of their class; Brock knew [she] had big expectations and he was having a tough time coming up with a good way to ask her. She invited him to a Dayton Dragons baseball game (the are a Cincinnati Reds farm team) and he called the Dragons to see if they would put “[Name] will you go to prom with me?” on the Jumbotron scoreboard. They did this and during the 3rd inning, [she] was asked to prom! Brock is also very understanding of his very sentimental and emotional mom. The day we moved him in at Stanford, we went out to dinner and when we dropped him at the dorm he hugged me fore a long time. As h walked to the door of the dorm, he turned around and gave a final wave. I was sobbing but he knew I needed that last wave. Leaving him that night was the absolute hardest thing I had ever done. We got to see him in one college swim meet at Texas A&M All the Stanford swim parents were at this particular meet and it was the first time we saw Brock since leaving him at school. He came up in the stands and hugged both Dan and I and he was the only freshman boy to do this. Some of the other parents commented how the wished their boys were that thoughtful. He knew that we needed to touch him-we really missed him. It was so hard having him so far from home. When he was home at Christmas, he broke down crying because he was so homesick.
Brock also has an incredibly kind heart toward the more disenfranchised members of our society. This comes form having an uncle who was severely mentally retarded, had cerebral palsy, and epilepsy. My kids were around my brother from the time they were babies and they all learned quickly how to play and interact with him. Scott did not speak other than to say “bye-bye”. He loved playing with blocks and puzzles so he was kind of like a big-sized toddler. Brock was especially taken with his uncle and spent a lot of time with him. My brother lived at home until his death at age 38. Brock was in the first grade when Scott died. My mom, sister, and I remember how Brock adjusted the quilt covering my brother because it had to be just right for Uncle Scotty. Brock had several classmates who had special needs and his teachers would always say how he was such a nice friend and went out of his way to include the kids. This continued on through high school when he participated with the Oakwood Adapted Athletics (Special Olympics) swim team. He served as an able-bodied partner with the Special Olympians. I will never forget the final meet during his senior year. One of the swimmers, a boy named Theodor, wanted a blue ribbon more than anything. Brock promised him that their relay would get a blue ribbon. Well, the first relay they swam they came in 2nd. This was the ONLY time in swimming that I ever saw Brock upset after a race. He did not want to let Theodor down. They had one more relay and Brock made sure they came in first so Theodor got his blue ribbon! I have always been so proud of Brock for participating with the Special Olympics team during high school. It is very near and dear to my heart and he did it because he genuinely cared for the kids.
There have been many references to Brock being from a wealthy, privileged background and he thinks he is entitled. Your honor, this could not be further from the truth. Dan and I are a working middle-class couple with Midwestern values. Trust me when I say that Silicon Valley, CA is vastly different from the south suburbs of Dayton, OH. We both grew up in Dayton and attended the local public college Wright State University and we lived at home with our parents. Dan is an electrical engineer and works as a civil servant for the Air Force. His dad grew up in an orphanage, found in World War II in the South Pacific, and then worked for NCR. His mom worked full-time for the Air Force back when mothers stayed at home. I am a registered nurse and spent the majority of my career in surgery at a Level 1 Trauma Center with a specialty in gynecology surgery. My dad, a retired school principal, grew up with his four siblings raise by a single mother who worked cleaning offices for NCR. My mom is also a nurse and still works in surgery at the age of 79. We do NOT come from money, rather the opposite. Brock’s brother Brent graduated in 2014 from The University of Cincinnati with a Biomedical engineering degree and he works for a company called Mammotome in Cincinnati. He currently has 30K in student loan debt. Our daughter Caroline graduated last summer from UC with a degree in Fine Arts. She currently has 60K in student loan debt. She is unemployed having quit her job at a coffee shop to stay with Brock after the verdict. Our kids have student load debt because while Dan and I both have decent jobs, we don’t make enough to afford to pay for college. Now, with of the debt we have accumulated form the trial and the 14 months leading up to it……..let’s just say our financial situation is precarious and unstable.
Our lives now exist in 2 phases-prior to the weekend of Jan. 17/18, 2015 and after that weekend. The weekend started out pretty exciting for Dan and I-we sold the home we raised the kids in after Brock graduated. We need to downsize not only the size of the house but our payment. Having Brock in school across the country meant added expenses so we needed some extra money. We moved into our new home on Jan. 17, 2015. Then we got that fateful call from Brock on Sunday the 18th and our world was been spinning apart ever since. This house now reminds me of the horror of that moment. I have not decorated the house nor have I hung anything on the walls. I am a mom who loves family pictures but I haven’t had the heart to put photos around of our family being happy. How can I? We will never be happy again. Those happy family times are gone forever, replaced by despair, fear, depression, anxiety, doubt, and dread. I don’t think I have been able to take a deep breath since this happened. My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?” I have cried every single day since Jan. 18. This is on my mind every moment. But in the months leading up to the trial, we had hope. Brock told us what happened and his accounting of the events of that night never changed from the first time he told us everything. He was a shy and awkward 19-year old, far away from home trying to fit in with the swimmers he idolized. He is the most trust-worthy and honest person I know. He was telling the truth. We knew once he had to opportunity to tell what happened this would all go away. We even had a college coach contact his Dayton Raiders coach inquiring about Brock’s status-this coach had recruited him before and still wanted Brock to come and swim for him. We felt that was a positive sign and Brock started swimming again. We had some hope.
Then that awful, horrible, terrible, gut-wrenching, life-changing verdict was read. I know what a broken heart feels like. It is a physical pain that starts just below the collar bone and extends to below the rib cage, it is a crushing and heavy ache that feels like I am being squeezed. This feeling has not left my body since the verdict. This verdict has destroyed us. Brock is a shattered and broken shell of the person he used to be. My once vibrant and happy boy is distraught, deeply depressed, terribly wounded, and filled with despair. His smile is gone forever-that beautiful grin is no more. When I look into his eyes I see fear and anguish. His voice is barely above a whisper and he keeps himself hunched over almost trying not to be noticed. He trembles uncontrollably. He is crushed that the jury ruled against him. He has lost so much weight because he barely eats anything. He is utterly terrified and traumatized by this. We are devastated beyond belief. My beautiful, happy family will never know happiness again. We all love Brock so much and to see him in this much pain and agony is indescribable. Dan and I start our day standing in our kitchen hugging and sobbing. I’ve known him for 31 years and the only time I saw him cry was when his father died from Alzheimer’s disease. Now my strong and handsome husband breaks down crying several times a day. He is hurting for his son. We all are-Brock has 3 grandparents still living and they are shattered by this. He has spent a great deal of time with them, in fact-he spent a lot of the past year helping them. My dad had had major heart surgery, eye surgeries, and an ankle replacement so Brock has been a huge help to he and my mom. But they have lost their joy. This verdict has affected so many people here in Ohio who know and love Brock.
Your honor, I beg of you to show Brock mercy. He has never been in trouble, never even had a demerit in high school, he studied, swam, worked hard-he has lived and exemplary life. He will contribute to society in a positive way, it will just be a different path now. Please send him a message that his life still has meaning, that you believe in him. Please give him hope. His life is forever impacted and drastically altered by the ramifications of these guilty verdicts. Ohio is on of the strictest states with the sexual offender registry. Brock will have to register at the highest tier which means he is on the same level as a pedophile/child molester. There is no differentiation. The public records will reflect a Tier 3 so people will wrongly assume he is a child molester. I fear for his lifelong safety. So he, at the tender age of 20, now will have to register every 60 days for the rest of his life. He will live a lifetime of scrutiny, he lost 2 jobs just because he was accused of this, now he faces of lifetime of struggling for decent work. Can he be on a college campus. I don’t know. He WILL earn a college degree even if he had to do it 100% online. If he ever has children, he won’t be able to take them to a public park and push them on a swing, he won’t be able to volunteer at their school, he won’t be able to teach Sunday school, he won’t be able to be their Scout leader, he won’t be able to coach them, he won’t be able to chaperone a class field trip or help with a homeroom party……..this is his future life. I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete- all the publicity……..this would be a death sentence for him. Having lost everything he has ever worked for his entire life and knowing the registry is a requirement for the rest of his life certainly is more than harsh. His dreams have been shattered by this. No NCAA Championships. No Stanford degree, No swimming in the Olympics (and I honestly know he would have made a future team), no medical school, no becoming an Orthopedic surgeon……..all gone.
Your honor, please be kind and merciful to my beautiful son. He is suffering and will continue to pay for this for his entire lifetime.