Update — Jun. 8, 9:01 p.m. ET: According to information published by the Dayton Daily News, a customer service representative for the Wright-Patt Credit Union confirmed that Dan Turner, the father of Brock Turner, established the account into which funds solicited through the Facebook fundraising page would be deposited. The credit union account is still active as of this update. It is unclear whether Dan Turner also established the page soliciting the funds, which purported to be authored by a friend of the Turner family.
Just when you thought the grossest part of the Brock Turner case was the ferocity of the underlying assault, along comes a Facebook fundraising page to help out Brock’s parents. Apparently, they need some support to get through their harrowing ordeal.
The page, which has since been taken down, was apparently set up by a family friend, and contained the following message:
“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 lifechanging 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.
“A fund has been set up at Wright Patt Credit Union for those who wish to show their support with a donation for Dan and Carleen Turner. You can make a donation to The Turner Family Support Fund…in [three] ways.”
We don’t know for sure who set this up but yuck.
Look, I get that parents are not responsible for every misdeed of their kids. And I get that a twenty-year-old man is the one solely responsible for a violent sexual assault that he committed. Whatever parenting mistakes they may have made, Dan and Carleen Turner are undoubtedly going through their own little hell right now. And while I’d wager a guess that they were champion enablers and apologists long before Brock entered Stanford, all parents love their children, and this ordeal can’t be easy for the Turners.
Sympathy aside, though, sometimes, the right thing to do is to shut the hell up. And for the Turners, now is that time. We’re all still reeling from the victim’s captivating and disturbing statement to the court. And although Judge Persky likely had legally-sound reasons for doling out a very light sentence, knowing that Brock will probably be out free soon still stings. If we’re going to lament a “monumental life-changing and tragic situation,” it surely not going to be the Turner finances that come to mind. And let’s be clear. It’s not a “situation with Brock.” Academic probation is a “situation with Brock.” Swimmer’s Ear is a “situation with Brock.” Attempted rape is not a “situation.” It is an inexcusable, violent attack committed by a criminal predator. Characterizing it otherwise is as much a contribution to unsafe campus environments as are drunken frat parties.
Okay, so it wasn’t the Turners themselves who put up the fundraising page – it was apparently a friend of the family. I have no doubt that this friend meant well, despite her utter cluelessness. But this woman’s attitude—her suggestion that the appropriate response to a violent sexual assault is a “show of support, friendship and solidarity” to the violent criminal who committed it – is the problem. It is the heart of the problem.
Violent crime always ruins lives, and not just the lives of the victims. The widespread effects of violence are felt by those surrounding both the victims and the offenders, and also by society at large. But a public fundraising request makes the implicit statement: this is just as bad for the offender’s family as it is for the victim.
I’ve seen a ton of Facebook fundraising campaigns—asking people to support everything from autism research to marching band trips to animal shelters. Until now, I’ve never seen one asking to lighten the load for a family whose felon of a son needs to get back to school without financial stress. And if we’re going to go there, could we at least see a GoFundMe for the victim and her family? I’m sure she’s got some lost wages and medical bills that could use some cash.
Had the Turner family’s savings been depleted defending a murder, drug, robbery, or embezzlement case, we’d never see them characterized as needy victims of circumstance. In that difference lies the problem with sexual assault. No other crime is excused so often by so many. Women will not be safer by donating to The Turner Family Support Fund, no matter how badly we feel for Brock Turner’s parents. Women will not be made safer by signing petitions to remove a judge, or to change the sentencing guidelines in a vacuum of only this case. Women will only be made safer when each of us examines our own thinking and finds a way to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.