Newly released transcripts from the trial of Brock Turner, the Stanford rapist, might be the most revealing documents of the case yet. The transcripts provide insight as to why Judge Aaron Persky gave Turner such a lenient sentence.
It appears that Persky was particularly drawn to the character reference letter from Turner’s childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen of Good English. Persky said the the things Rasmussen said about Turner “just [rang] true” to him.
For reference, Rasmussen’s letter said, “I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + 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.” The letter was so offensive that it got Rasmussen’s band, Good English, barred from playing several music festivals.
Rasmussen herself recently apologized for the things she wrote in the letter, admitting that she “did not acknowledge strongly enough the severity of Brock’s crime and the suffering and pain that his victim endured.”
The court transcript which was obtained by The Guardian illustrates Persky’s thought process behind the sentencing. Persky said, “To me, that just rings true as to – it sort of corroborates the evidence of his character up until the night of the incident, which has been positive.”
After hearing statements from the victim, the prosecutor, Turner, Turner’s father and the defense attorney, Persky quoted the victim, stating, “As she writes, ‘the damage is done,'” and claimed that his role now was just to “follow the road map our system of criminal justice sets out for the court in sentencing decisions.”
Monica Lassettre, Turner’s probation office, may have also played a role in Turner’s lighter sentencing. According to court transcripts, she argued for a lenient sentence because Turner was drunk at the time of the crime.
“This case, when compared to other crimes of a similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication,” Lassettre wrote.
It’s plain awful.