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To the Mother of the Stanford Rapist

Image Source: Adrian Wood
Image Source: Adrian Wood

Dear Mrs. Turner,

I keep wondering where you are in all of this. Your silence is deafening to this mother of four young children; three of them sons. Are you hoping that if you just close your eyes and go to sleep, it will all go away? Maybe just maybe, if you try hard enough, you will wake up and realize that it’s all been a terrible nightmare. I don’t blame you, as what’s the alternative really? Truthfully, I can picture myself embracing that same philosophy. Not deliberately, but certainly subconsciously, as a way to survive the terrible truth about your son.

Do you wonder what went wrong? It seemed he had the world at his fingertips. Like your husband said, he was “happy go lucky with an easygoing personality and welcoming smile.” He certainly looks that way in his photographs that have been plastered all over the Internet and inundated with comments that call for his lynching and now your husband’s.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it seems like it has.

Do you agree with your husband that this was just a case of alcohol induced “sexual promiscuity” or what he casually called “20 minutes of action?” I can’t imagine any woman feeling like that, even as I recall what it was to be 23 years old and drinking heavily.

I remember that blue-eyed boy I met one day at a college party so many years ago, after a few too many drinks. The one with hair bleached from the summer sun and salt water. I remember riding in his car and wondering where we were going. We drove forever, it seemed, until we finally arrived and he opened my door and carried me inside and lay me on the couch in my parents’ house. He kissed me on the cheek and went home.

This is the kind of man I want to raise, though I do sometimes wonder how can I make sure my little boys will all grow up to be scholars, athletes, and most importantly, gentlemen.

I’m struck that your husband, just as your son, has not denied the rape itself; it seems that would be the most common reason why parent would take such offense to a six-month prison sentence. I guess the two men that discovered him that night, in the act of rape behind a dumpster, are fairly good witnesses.

Did your son call you for bail? I think if I had gotten that call, my instinct would have been, “Absolutely not, no way, not MY son.” I wonder if you had a chance to listen to the men that stopped all the terrible violence, and held your son as they waited for the police to arrive. It is easy for me to say that at that point, I may have gotten back in my car and gone home. I have always believed in natural and logical consequences, but I also know to never say never.

As I think about you, I find myself wondering if you have a daughter. It’s hard for me to imagine that you do, as I hope my own sons treasure their sister as a precious commodity and would think of her before they made the decision to defile another human.

I’m sorry this has happened in your family. But most of all, I’m sorry for the poor young woman whose life has been forever altered. Your son made a terrible mistake and I can only hope he realizes that life doesn’t always give us a do-over. Terrible actions should have equal consequences, and I can only hope his six months in prison is enough to let it sink in.

But I also worry if it is not.

It could have been my son too, I know that. Your son was bright and a hard worker. After all, you don’t become a Varsity swimmer for Stanford without a superb academic record, terrific motivation, and lofty aspirations. And believe me, I value all of that; but I’m still left wondering what you think, how you feel, and what, if anything, you might have to say to a mother like me. A mother of four little souls who is doing everything she can to raise them up to bring more good in this world, and to protect them from all the bad.

You see, it could have been my son. But it could have been my daughter, too.

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