Putting it in perspective -
CONDENSED VERSION 3A(2) -- Editors and others may reprint or forward this op-ed and photos in their entirety. A more complete version is available on the prior web page.
Brock Turner Case and the Need for an Honest Dialog
By Patrick A. Shea and John L. Tompkins
We are two attorneys working entirely pro bono on behalf of Brock Turner and who had no preconceived notions about his case when we first heard about it over a year ago but were startled by what seemed to be a concerted and even malicious campaign being presented in the media. That led to our obtaining the transcripts from Turner’s trial and making inquiries of people on various sides. The transcripts and other materials are available at www.brockturnertruth.com.
Our inquiries have led to some important questions we would urge everyone to discuss, no matter how you might come out in the end:
The Public Record
Turner was a 19-year-old Stanford freshman who had gotten drunk in his dorm notwithstanding policies that forbid under-age drinking and requiring dorm staff to intervene.
At the Kappa Alpha fraternity party, Turner was allowed to drink more, again contrary to Stanford’s policies.
Doe was a 22-year-old who had graduated from college elsewhere. She had consumed four shots of alcohol at home, possibly more, before her mother drove her, her sister and friends to Stanford at 11 at night.
Turner was seen dancing with Doe and on an outdoor patio. Doe left the party voluntarily with Turner. They were making out in full view of passersby, NOT hidden behind a dumpster (see photos). Another couple was nearby and also making out in full view of passersby.
Turner never opened his zipper, pants or other clothing and his DNA was not on Doe’s underwear or anywhere on her body.
The only bruises and bandages on Doe were from attempts by paramedics to insert an IV and where they had trouble finding a vein.
When Doe woke up at the hospital, she had no sense anything was wrong but simply asked if she could go to the bathroom. When she woke up again, she was told to fill out a form that said at the top “rape victim.”
At the time of the incident involving Turner, Stanford officials had been under ongoing pressures about Title IX procedures. They were highly sympathetic to any and all allegations of sexual misconduct but also wanted to assure fairness for those who might be accused. Also, serious mistakes had been made a few years earlier in the Joe Lonsdale matter and where a significant media campaign had been waged by the same people now involved in the Turner matter.
Turner initially thought he was being protected by police from an attack by two males which, it turns out, had resulted in breaking one of Turner’s wrists. Rather, Turner was taken to the Stanford police holding cell, stripped, told his Miranda rights while he was still too drunk to understand what was happening, and his body fluids were taken without the required warrant or consent by the same woman technician who then went to the hospital and examined Doe.
The Criminal Proceedings
In the criminal proceedings, Doe and her sister often changed their testimony. Police improperly took the two Swedish graduate student witnesses to walk the property together and tried to get them to change their prior conflicting statements. A prosecution witnesses changed her testimony after a critical recess was requested by the prosecutor, and more. In most jurisdictions, this would constitute witness tampering or suborning perjury.
The police took down the license plate numbers of cars in the KA parking lot but did no followup interviews and later claimed they didn’t have the license plate numbers.
Evidence was withheld by the DA’s office from Turner’s attorney, who himself made numerous errors before and during the trial.
It only recently was learned that Turner’s lawyer had previously represented the people who have been waging the campaign against Turner and the judge in the case, Judge Aaron Persky, but never told Turner or his family of that fact. On top of that, Turner’s lawyer was invited by these people to speak to their law school class while the lawyer was preparing for Turner’s trial and he did so. He was invited to speak to the class after the trial and again did so. Turner’s lawyer never told Turner or his family about any of this.
At sentencing, Doe read in court a highly-charged personal statement that was immediately disseminated by third parties. It contains numerous misstatements and, given the careful legal and other wording, doesn’t appear to have been written by Doe. In fact, it turns out there are two versions: the one filed with the court days earlier and the one read in court after third parties apparently did further editing. Third parties and their media consultants more recently say “that Doe read in court,” not “that Doe wrote.”
The statement also directly contradicts what Doe told county probation officials weeks earlier: “I don’t want him to feel like his life is over and I don’t want him to rot in jail; he doesn’t need to be behind bars.”
Persky Recall; the Dolphin Group
The same third parties attacking Turner are waging a relentless campaign against Judge Persky, never mind the importance of an independent judiciary and the fact that judges are expected to follow the probation department’s recommendations.
From the outset, the Recall Persky campaign has listed Becky Warren as their head of communication. Until very recently, Ms. Warren was a partner in The Dolphin Group https://www.facebook.com/DolphinGroupLA/posts/538983572940635, an entity described as “the Dark Messenger” in this article from The Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/california-prop-32_n_1934213.html.
The Recall Campaign seems to be using the Dolphin Group’s notorious Willie Horton playbook in the campaign against both Turner and Judge Persky.
Need for an Honest and Open Dialog
It’s time to set the record straight on the Brock Turner case. It’s also time for an open and honest dialog about the responsibilities of both women and men regarding alcohol and sex. The disinformation campaign that has been waged against Turner and Judge Persky works against such a goal.
Copyright © 2017 Patrick A. Shea and John L. Tompkins. All rights reserved.
* * * * * * *
Patrick Shea is a practicing lawyer, a professor of biology at the University of Utah, a former Stanford student body president and Rhodes Scholar, and a former chair of the Stanford Alumni Association. John Tompkins is a criminal defense lawyer in Indianapolis. Both have been reviewing the files in the Turner case and subsequently advising the family on a pro bono basis. The information in this article includes input from other attorneys and journalists, law school faculty from other universities, past administrators, alumni, and others.
See also A picture is worth a thousand words